Kathie Stussie v. Bushmeyer (SLCY)

October 11th, 2012



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State Tax Commission of Missouri






v.                                                                                    Appeal No.11-20022











Decision of the City of St. Louis Board of Equalization reducing the assessment made by the Assessor is AFFIRMED.True value in money for 2011 and 2012 is set at $52,000, assessed value of $9,880.Complainant appeared in person.Respondent appeared by Assistant City Counselor Rich Kismer.Case heard and decided by Hearing Officer Maureen Monaghan.


The Commission takes this appeal to determine the true value in money for the subject property on January 1, 2011.


Complainant appeals, on the ground of overvaluation, the decision of the City of St. Louis Board of Equalization, which reduced the valuation of the subject property.The Assessor determined an appraised value of $57,580, assessed value of $10,940, as residential property. The Board of Equalization determined an appraised value of $52,000, assessed value of $9,880, as residential property A hearing was conducted on September 11, 2012, at the City of St. Louis, City Hall, St. Louis, Missouri.

The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.


1.Jurisdiction.Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper.Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the City of St. Louis Board of Equalization.

2.Complainant’s Evidence.Complainant testified on her own behalf and presented evidence:






Letters from 10/1988 toneighbors regarding dog bites, assaults and property damage.

Hearsay, relevance

Objection sustained as to relevance as the event occurred in 1988 and valuation is for 2011


Records from criminal case, Complainant victim, Neighbor defendant

Hearsay, relevance

Objection sustained as to relevance as the event occurred in 1988 and valuation is for 2011.


2003 Hazardous appliance report. Squirrels nesting in chimney.Repairs

Hearsay, relevance

Objection sustained as to relevance as the event occurred in 2003 and valuation is for 2011.


Letter dated 2-13-2004.Complainant requests city to remove trees.

Hearsay, relevance

Objection sustained as to relevance as the event occurred in 2004 and valuation is for 2011.


Letter dated 2-24-2004 from City responding that they will not be trimming trees

Hearsay, relevance

Objection sustained as to relevance as the event occurred in 2004 and valuation is for 2011.


Letter dated 3-8-2004 from Complainant to City regarding tree issue.

Hearsay, relevance

Objection sustained as to relevance as the event occurred in 2004 and valuation is for 2011.


Letter dated 12-27-2006 from Complainant to City, including photos, regarding tree falling toward her house.


Objection sustained as to relevance as the event occurred in 2006 and valuation is for 2011.


Check from City to Complainant dated 9-4-2007 for tree damage


Objection sustained as to relevance as the event occurred in 2007 and valuation is for 2011.


City website information on neighbor’s house.Includes Complainant’s request regarding tree in their yard

Hearsay, Relevance

Sustained as to relevance.No showing as to its impact on market value.


Citizen’s Service Bureau poster

Hearsay, relevance



News article from 7/20/2011 “Two St. Louis city employees among those indicted in gang violence” and Indictment




Photos dated 7/28/12.Tree in neighbor’s yard.Dead.Fell into Complainant’s yard.Photos of long grass and weeds of neighbor.2010 photos of tree that died.

Relevance as to photos after 1/1/11

Sustained.Photos prior to and up to 1/1/11 are relevant as to market value.Photos after that date are not relevant.


Ameren’s tree trimming notice dated 7-31-2012

Hearsay, relevance



Roof Bid 8/1/12

Relevance, Hearsay



Notice from City that the valuation would decrease in 2011




Building permit for garage in 2000.City estimated it at $4100.Complainant says it was much more.

Relevance, hearsay

Sustained as to relevance due to the date of the event.


Notice of BOE hearing




Photos of property – history of problems with the property –dated 2005 to 2011

Relevance as to photos prior to 2009



Articles on Section 8 housing’s impact on neighborhoods




Appeal to the BOE 2011




Appeal to the BOE 2011




City of Assessor’s website, Complainant’s e-mail toAssessor

Argumentative, speculation, hearsay



Notice of Decrease of Assessment from previous cycle




Property information, Complaints regarding neighbor’s property




City website – Evidence of City’s addition of garage




Complainant purchased the property in 1983.Complainant’s opinion of value is $10,000.Her opinion is based upon the condition of the neighbor’s property and the difficulties she has had with the City of St. Louis. She testified that she has had numerous problems with the neighbors, first regarding their dogs and lack of attention to their yard and later due to their renting of the property.Complainant also testified that the City of St. Louis has not tended to the trees planted curbside nor have they responded to her complaints regarding the neighbor’s property.

3.Respondent’s Evidence.Exhibit A was received into evidence.Exhibit A is an appraisal of the subject property by Real Property Appraiser I John Norton.The appraiser presented a sales comparison approach using 3 sales occurring within 4 blocks of the subject property, with sales dates of December 2010 to February 2011.The properties ranged in size from 731 to 840 square feet.The adjusted sales prices ranged from $56,020 to $59,780.The appraiser concluded on a value of $57,600.

4.Subject Property.The subject property is located at 4422 Wallace Ave, St. Louis, Missouri.The property is identified by map parcel number 5447-00-0190-00300.The property consists of a single story, single family residence built in 1909.Its total square footage is 944.There is a 2 car-detached garage constructed by the Complainant in 2000.Complainant maintains her home.She purchased a new HVAC system in 2009.The neighboring property has not been maintained as well as the Complainant’s property.

5.Complainant Failed To Prove Value.Complainant failed to present substantial and persuasive to rebut the presumption of correct assessment by the Board and establish the true value in money as of January 1, 2011.



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.[1]

Presumption In Appeals

There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the Board of Equalization.[2] 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.[3]When as in this case, Complainant fails to present any relevant evidence to establish the fair market (true value in money) value of the property being appealed, the Board presumption stands.

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.[4]It is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date.[5]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.


6.The price represents a normal consideration for the property sold unaffected by special financing amounts and/or terms, services, fees, costs, or credits incurred in the transaction.[6]


Methods of Valuation

Proper methods of valuation and assessment of property are delegated to the Commission.It is within the purview of the Hearing Officer to determine the method of valuation to be adopted in a given case.[7]Missouri courts have approved the comparable sales or market approach, the cost approach and the income approach as recognized methods of arriving at fair market value.[8]Complainant’s opinion of value was not derived from any recognized methodology for the appraisal of real estate.

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, 2011.[9]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.”[10]

Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.[11]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.[12]

Owner’s Opinion of Value

The owner of property is generally held competent to testify to its reasonable market value.[13]The owner’s opinion is without probative value however, where it is shown to have been based upon improper elements or an improper foundation.[14]In the present appeal, Complainant did not present evidence of the market value of the property.

The Complainant presented articles from various publications.The Exhibits were excluded upon objection as hearsay and relevance.Taxpayers in appeals before the Commission often become quite enamored with newspaper and Internet.The first problem with such documents as exhibits is that they are simply an out of court statement offered to prove the truth of itself.In other words they are hearsay.Furthermore, they are usually hearsay upon hearsay, since the person writing the article is generally relying upon other sources for the data about which they are writing and drawing their conclusions and opinions.Without the person who has written the article present to testify the proper foundation cannot be laid to receive the exhibit.

However, even assuming that in this instance, the authors[15] of the article had been present to lay the foundation and be cross-examined there is the additional evidentiary hurdle that must be cleared of the information contained in the article being relevant to the issues present in the appeal.Even if the article established the issue for which it was written, it does nothing to prove what a willing buyer and seller would have agreed to as the purchase price of Complainant’s property on January 1, 2011.The information contained in the article has no relevance as to the issue of overvaluation.It is therefore inadmissible on both the grounds of hearsay and relevance as objected to at hearing and was so excluded.

The Complainant presented many photographs depicting the condition of the neighbor’s yard.The photographs do not provide a basis upon which the Hearing Officer can conclude fair market value.While a picture may be worth a thousand words, a photograph is seldom of any probative benefit to establish the fair market value of any given property.Photographs simply cannot represent the dollar cost for needed repairs, or the dollar value of a given property. Accordingly, the exhibits have no probative weight for reaching a conclusion of value.

According to the Complainant, she has suffered for nearly a decade from the behaviors of the next door neighbors.The residents, whether they be the owners or the tenants, have failed to maintain their property as well as she has maintained her property.While the Hearing Officer can be sympathetic to her plight, the testimony does not provide the impact on the market value to her property as of January 1, 2011.

Complainant failed to meet her burden of proof.


The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the the Board of Equalization for City of St. Louis for the subject tax day is AFFIRMED.

The assessed value for the subject property for tax years 2011 and 2012 is set at $9,880.

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.The application shall contain specific 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.

Failure to state specific facts or law upon which the appeal is based will result in summary denial. [16]

The Collector of St. Louis City, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall continue to hold the disputed taxes pending a 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 October 11, 2012



Maureen Monaghan

Hearing Officer

Certificate of Service


I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been mailed postage prepaid on this 11th day of October, 2012, to:Kathie Stussie, P.O. Box 93152, Des Moines, IA 50393, Complainant; Rich Kismer, Associate City Counselor, 314 City Hall, St. Louis, MO 63103, Attorney for Respondent; Ed Bushmeyer, Assessor, 120 City Hall, St. Louis, MO 63103; Gregory Daly, Collector, 110 City Hall, St. Louis, MO 63103.


Barbara Heller

Legal Coordinator

Contact Information for State Tax Commission:

Missouri State Tax Commission

301 W. High Street, Room 840

P.O. Box 146

Jefferson City, MO 65102-0146


573-751-1341 Fax

[1] Article X, section 14, Mo. Const. of 1945; Sections 138.430, 138.431, 138.431.4, RSMo.


[2] 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).


[3] Hermel, supra; Cupples-Hesse Corporation v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959).


[4] St. Joe Minerals Corp. v. State Tax Commission, 854 S.W.2d 526, 529 (Mo. App. E.D. 1993); Missouri Baptist Children’s Home v. State Tax Commission, 867 S.W.2d 510, 512 (Mo. banc 1993).


[5] Hermel, supra.


[6] 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.


[7] See, Nance v. STC, 18 S.W.3d 611, at 615 (Mo. App. W.D. 2000); Hermel, supra;Xerox Corp. v. STC, 529 S.W.2d 413 (Mo. banc 1975).


[8] St. Joe Minerals Corp. v. STC, 854 S.W.2d 526, 529 (App. E.D. 1993); Aspenhof Corp. v. STC, 789 S.W.2d 867, 869 (App. E.D. 1990); Quincy Soybean Company, Inc., v. Lowe, 773 S.W.2d 503, 504 (App. E.D. 1989), citing Del-Mar Redevelopment Corp v. Associated Garages, Inc., 726 S.W.2d 866, 869 (App. E.D. 1987); and State ex rel. State Highway Comm’n v. Southern Dev. Co., 509 S.W.2d 18, 27 (Mo. Div. 2 1974).


[9] Hermel, supra.


[10] 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).


[11] See, Cupples-Hesse, supra.


[12] Brooks v. General Motors Assembly Division, 527 S.W.2d 50, 53 (Mo. App. 1975).


[13] Rigali v. Kensington Place Homeowners’ Ass’n, 103 S.W.3d 839, 846 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003); Boten v. Brecklein, 452 S.W.2d 86, 95 (Sup. 1970).


[14] 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).


[15] Two individuals are shown as having written the article.


[16] Section 138.432, RSMo.