State Tax Commission of Missouri
v.) Appeal Number 09-10661
MICHAEL BROOKS, ACTING ASSESSOR,)
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI,)
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization reducing the assessment made by the Assessor is AFFIRMED.True value in money for the subject property for tax years 2009 and 2010 is set at $39,200, residential assessed value of $7,450.Complainant appeared pro se.Respondent appeared by Associate County Counselor Paula J. Lemerman.
Case decided by Senior Hearing Officer W. B. Tichenor.
Complainant appeals, on the ground of overvaluation, the decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization, which reduced the valuation of the subject property.The Commission takes this appeal to determine the true value in money for the subject property on January 1, 2009.The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1.Jurisdiction.Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper.Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization.
2.Submission on Documents.By letter of Complainant to the Commission received March 8, 2010, Complainant submitted supporting documentation and requested that the case be decided upon documents in lieu of an evidentiary hearing.By Order issued on March 16, 2010, case was to be submitted on documents unless objection was made on or before April 1, 2010.No objection was made.
3.Assessment.The Assessor valued the property at $43,200, residential assessment of $8,210.The Board of Equalization reduced the value to $39,200, residential assessment of $7,450.
4.Subject Property.The subject property is located at 1196 Babler Park road, Glencoe, Missouri.The property is identified by parcel number 21W510012.The property consists of 10 acres of naturally wooded, rolling terrain.The property has current utilities including electric, telephone and access to public water.A documented road easement exists along a paved road over Rockwood School District land that leads from the subject to Babler Park Drive.
5.No New Construction and Improvements.There was no evidence of new construction and improvement from January 1, 2009, to January 1, 2010, therefore the assessed value for 2009 remains the assessed value for 2010.
Exhibit A.Complainant’s Exhibit A was received into evidence.Exhibit A consisted of (1) Letter of Explanation; (2) Plat map showing location of subject property, subject’s driveway and cell tower, located near the entrance to the subject property; (3) three photographs of the cell tower.
Exhibit 1.Respondent’s Exhibit 1 was received into evidence.Exhibit 1 was a summary statement concerning residential land sales in the subject’s neighboring area.Exhibit 1 listed four sales comparables that establish per acre values from $23,400 to $92,332, with an average value of $49,836 per acre.
7.Evidence Not Substantial and Persuasive.Complainant’s evidence was not substantial and persuasive to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board and establish the true value in money as of January 1, 2009, to be $28,000, as proposed.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW AND DECISION
The Commission has jurisdiction to hear this appeal and correct any assessment which is shown to be unlawful, unfair, arbitrary or capricious.The hearing officer shall issue a decision and order affirming, modifying or reversing the determination of the board of equalization, and correcting any assessment which is unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary, or capricious.
Presumptions In Appeals
There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the CountyBoardof Equalization.The presumption of correct assessment is rebutted when the taxpayer presents substantial and persuasive evidence to establish that the Board’s valuation is erroneous and what the fair market value should have been placed on the property.The evidence presented on behalf of Complainant failed to meet the required standard of substantial and persuasive.Therefore, the presumption of correct assessment by the Board was no rebutted.
Standard for Valuation
Section 137.115, RSMo, requires that property be assessed based upon its true value in money which is defined as the price a property would bring when offered for sale by one willing or desirous to sell and bought by one who is willing or desirous to purchase but who is not compelled to do so.True value in money is defined in terms of value in exchange and not value in use.It is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date.Market value is the most probable price in terms of money which a property should bring in competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller, each acting prudently, knowledgeable and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus.
Implicit in this definition are the consummation of a sale as of a specific date and the passing of title from seller to buyer under conditions whereby:
1.Buyer and seller are typically motivated.
2.Both parties are well informed and well advised, and both acting in what they consider their own best interests.
3.A reasonable time is allowed for exposure in the open market.
4.Payment is made in cash or its equivalent.
5.Financing, if any, is on terms generally available in the Community at the specified date and typical for the property type in its locale.
Complainant’s Burden of Proof
In order to prevail, Complainant must present an opinion of market value and substantial and persuasive evidence that the proposed value is indicative of the market value of the subject property on January 1, 2009.There is no presumption that the taxpayer’s opinion is correct. The taxpayer in a Commission appeal still bears the burden of proof.The taxpayer is the moving party seeking affirmative relief.Therefore, the Complainant bears the burden of proving the vital elements of the case, i.e., the assessment was “unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.”
Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.Persuasive evidence is that evidence which has sufficient weight and probative value to convince the trier of fact.The persuasiveness of evidence does not depend on the quantity or amount thereof but on its effect in inducing belief.
The owner of property is generally held competent to testify to its reasonable market value.The owner’s opinion is without probative value however, where it is shown to have been based upon improper elements or an improper foundation.A taxpayer does not meet the burden of proof if evidence on any essential element of his case leaves the Commission “in the nebulous twilight of speculation, conjecture and surmise.”
Complainant believes that the existence of a cell tower on neighboring land near the entrance of the subject property affects the value of the property.The taxpayer believes the value of the property should be lower than the 2008 valuation of $32,900.However, the sum total of Complainant’s evidence consists of her unsupported assertions, a plat map and three photographs of the cell tower.Complainant presented no market data to establish that the subject property would have sold on January 1, 2009, for only $2,800 an acre.In point of fact, Respondent’s evidence would lead to a very reasonable conclusion that the property is worth more than 10 times that amount per acre.The existence of the cell tower may or may not have an impact on the value of the property, but there is no evidence from which it may be concluded
that the impact is such that a willing buyer and seller would have concluded a sale of the subject ten acres on January 1, 2009, at a price of only $2,800 per acre.
Complainant failed to meet her burden of proof.Her proposed value is based on mere speculation, conjecture and surmise.These are inappropriate grounds for establishing value for ad valorem taxation of real property.
The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Board of Equalization for St. Louis County for the subject tax day is AFFIRMED.
The assessed value for the subject property for tax years 2009 and 2010 is set at $7,450.
Application for Review
A party may file with the Commission an application for review of this decision within thirty days of the mailing date set forth in the Certificate of Service for this Decision.The application shall contain specific facts or law as grounds upon which it is claimed the decision is erroneous.Said application must be in writing addressed to the State Tax Commission of Missouri, P.O. Box 146, Jefferson City, MO65102-0146, and a copy of said application must be sent to each person at the address listed below in the certificate of service.
The Collector of St. Louis County, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall continue to hold the disputed taxes pending the possible filing of an Application for Review, unless said taxes have been disbursed pursuant to a court order under the provisions of Section 139.031.8, RSMo.
Any Finding of Fact which is a Conclusion of Law or Decision shall be so deemed.Any Decision which is a Finding of Fact or Conclusion of Law shall be so deemed.
SO ORDERED April 23, 2010.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OFMISSOURI
W. B. Tichenor
Senior Hearing Officer
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been mailed postage prepaid on this 23rdday of April, 2010, to:Juanita Vreeland, 11 Naples Road, S. Hamilton, MA 01982, Complainant; Paula Lemerman, Associate County Counselor, Attorney for Respondent; Michael Brooks, Acting Assessor; John Friganza, Collector, County Government Center, 41 South Central Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105.
 Hermel, Inc. v. STC, 564 S.W.2d 888, 895 (Mo. banc 1978); Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Co. v. STC, 436 S.W.2d 650, 656 (Mo. 1968); May Department Stores Co. v. STC, 308 S.W.2d 748, 759 (Mo. 1958).
 Daly v. P. D. George Company, et al, 77 S.W.3d 645, 649 (Mo. App E.D. 2002), citing, Equitable Life Assurance Society v. STC, 852 S.W.2d 376, 380 (Mo. App. 1993); citing, Stephen & Stephen Properties, Inc. v. STC, 499 S.W.2d 798, 801-803 (Mo. 1973).
 Real Estate Appraisal Terminology, Society of Real Estate Appraisers, Revised Edition, 1984; See also, Real Estate Valuation in Litigation, J. D. Eaton, M.A.I., American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers, 1982, pp. 4-5; Property Appraisal and Assessment Administration, International Association of Assessing Officers, 1990, pp. 79-80; Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, Glossary.
 See, Westwood Partnership v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003); Daly v. P. D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645 (Mo. App. E.D. 2002); Reeves v. Snider, 115 S.W.3d 375 (Mo. App. S.D. 2003).Industrial Development Authority of Kansas City v. State Tax Commission of Missouri, 804 S.W.2d 387, 392 (Mo. App. 1991).
 Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, (Mo. App. E.D., March 25, 2008); Carmel Energy, Inc. v. Fritter, 827 S.W.2d 780, 783 (Mo. App. W.D. 1992); State, ex rel. Missouri Hwy & Transp. Com’n v. Pracht, 801 S.W.2d 90, 94 (Mo. App. E.D. 1990); Shelby County R-4 School District v. Hermann, 392 S.W.2d 609, 613 (Sup. 1965).