Mannrose LLC v. Christian (Platte)

July 17th, 2013


State Tax Commission of Missouri



Complainant, )


) Appeal Nos. 12-79003 through 12-79008

v. )





Respondent. )







Decisions of the Platte County Board of Equalization are SUSTAINED. Hearing Officer finds Complainant did not rebut the presumption of correct assessment/classification by the Board.

Complainant appeared by Counsel, Tom A. Ryczek.

Respondent appeared by Counsel, John R. Shank.

Case heard and decided by Senior Hearing Officer Luann Johnson.


The Commission takes these appeals to determine the classification for the subject properties on January 1, 2012.


Complainant appeals the decision of the Platte County Board of Equalization, which sustained the classification of the subject properties as residential and set value as follows:



Assessor’s Values

Board’s Values

Appeal No.

Market Value

Assessed Value

Market Value

Assessed Value
































Complainant, through Mr. Mann, argued that the correct classification of the subject properties was agricultural and proposed an assessed value of $5,000 for all six parcels. The basis for the value was not explained. A hearing was conducted on June 24, 2013, at the Platte County Administration Building, Platte City, Missouri. The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.

Complainant’s Evidence

Exhibit A

e-mail, letter and city ordinance requiring weeds to be mowed

Exhibit B

picture of winter wheat planting in Fall 2012

Exhibit C

picture of winter wheat planting in Fall 2012

Exhibit D

letter from Assessor showing ag classification for tax year 2013

Exhibit E

copy of Section 137.016, RSMo

Exhibit F

copy of Section 137.021, RSMo

Exhibit H

copy of Section 137.017, RSMo


Respondent’s Evidence


Exhibit 1

Maps, pictures of subject properties

Exhibit 2

Written Direct Testimony of Brian Everly




1. Jurisdiction over these appeals is proper. Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decisions of the Platte County Board of Equalization.

2. In order to prevail, Complainant must demonstrate that the subject properties were devoted primarily (principally, fundamentally, first in intention, most importantly) to agricultural use during the period in question. See Conclusions of Law.

3. The subject properties consist of six commercial lots within Platte City, Missouri.

4. The lots have been platted for commercial use. Streets, sanitary and storm sewers, electrical, and other services are available to the platted areas. The lots have been continuously marketed for commercial use.

5. The properties were planted with fescue in 2009. There is no evidence that a soil test was performed. The fescue may have been fertilized during the year when planted but was not fertilized thereafter. The property was never reseeded. No herbicide was applied to prevent weeds. Mr. Mann testified that repeated mowing was the best way to keep weeds from occurring on the property.

6. Mr. Mann testified that he allowed the grass to grow through the years and determined in 2012 to have the grass cut as hay. To this end, he testified he contacted an acquaintance to bale the hay. In May, 2012 a complaint was filed with the City of Platte City. Thereafter, Platte City contacted Mr. Mann and advised him to mow the property. Mr. Mann did mow the property. No hay was taken off the property in 2012.

8. Complainant has failed to present substantial and persuasive evidence demonstrating the property was devoted primarily to agricultural use on January 1, 2012.



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]

Official and Judicial Notice

Agencies shall take official notice of all matters of which the courts take judicial notice.[2]

Courts will take judicial notice of their own records in the same cases.[3] In addition, courts may take judicial notice of records in earlier cases when justice requires[4] or when it is necessary for a full understanding of the instant appeal.[5] Courts may take judicial notice of their own records in prior proceedings involving the same parties and basically the same facts.[6]

Agencies may take official notice of technical or scientific facts, not judicially cognizable, within their competence, if they notify the parties, either during a hearing or in writing before a hearing, or before findings are made after hearing, of the facts of which they propose to take such notice and give the parties reasonable opportunity to contest such facts or otherwise show that it would not be proper for the agency to take such notice of them.[7]

Presumptions In Appeals

There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the County Board of Equalization.[8]

The presumption of correct assessment is rebutted when the taxpayer, or respondent when advocating a value different than that determined by the Board, presents substantial and persuasive evidence to establish that the Board’s valuation is erroneous and what the fair market value (classification) should have been placed on the property.[9]

Agricultural Land

Under Missouri statutory law, property shall be classified as agricultural and horticultural property when “real property [is] used for agricultural purposes and devoted primarily to the raising and harvesting of crops . . .” Section 137.016.1(2), RSMo. The classification is determined by the actual use put to the property.[10] Cutting hay is an agricultural activity and such activity can be sufficient to cause real property to be classified as “agricultural property”.[11]

The determination of whether or not a property is being used for agricultural purposes does not turn upon the profitability of the endeavor but upon whether the property is primarily devoted to the raising and harvesting of an agricultural crop. Hay is an agricultural crop. Rinehart v. Bateman, 363 SW 3d 357, Mo. App. WD 2012.

Devoted Primarily

“Primary purpose” means that which is first in intention; which is fundamental. “Primarily means principally”. SNL Securities, LC v. National Ass’n of Ins. Com’rs, 23 SW. 3d 734, Mo. App. WD 2000. Principal means chief; primary; most important. Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th Edition, 1999. Whether a property is devoted primarily to the raising and harvesting of crops is a fact driven inquiry dependent, therefore, on the evidence presented. Rinehart v. Bateman, 363 SW 3d 357, Mo. App. WD 2012.

Statutory Construction

Statutory construction is a matter of law. The primary rule of statutory construction is to determine the legislative intent from the language used in the statute by considering the plain and ordinary meaning of the words used therein. Where the language is clear and unambiguous, [the courts] will give effect to the language as written, and will not engage in statutory construction. [The] Court presumes that the legislature intended that every word, clause, sentence, and provision of the statute have effect and should be given meaning. Conversely, [the court] presumes that the legislature did not include excess language or idle verbiage in a statute. Courts are not authorized to read a legislative intent into a statute that is contrary to the intent made evident by the plain and ordinary meaning of the statutory language. Rinehart v. Bateman, 363 SW 3d 357, Mo. App. WD 2012.

Standard for Valuation

Section 137.017.1 RSMo. provides “For general property assessment purposes, the true value in money of land which is in use as agricultural and horticultural property, as defined in Section 137.016, shall be that value which such land has for agricultural or horticultural use. . .”

Land Grades

Section 137.021.1 RSMo. provides “ . . . .the state tax commission shall promulgate by regulation and publish a value based on productive capability for each of the several grades of agricultural and horticultural land. . . .”

Duty to Investigate

In order to investigate appeals filed with the Commission, the Hearing Officer has the duty to inquire of the owner of the property or of any other party to the appeal regarding any matter or issue relevant to the valuation, subclassification or assessment of the property. The Hearing Officer’s decision regarding the assessment or valuation of the property may be based solely upon its inquiry and any evidence presented by the parties, or based solely upon evidence presented by the parties.[12]

Weight to be Given Evidence

The Hearing Officer is not bound by any single formula, rule or method in determining true value in money, but is free to consider all pertinent facts and estimates and give them such weight as reasonably they may be deemed entitled. The relative weight to be accorded any relevant factor in a particular case is for the Hearing Officer to decide.[13]

Trier of Fact

The Hearing Officer as the trier of fact may consider the testimony of an expert witness and give it as much weight and credit as she may deem it entitled to when viewed in connection with all other circumstances. The Hearing Officer is not bound by the opinions of experts who testify on the issue of reasonable value, but may believe all or none of the expert’s testimony and accept it in part or reject it in part.[14]


Complainant’s Burden of Proof

In order to prevail, Complainant must present substantial and persuasive evidence that the property was “devoted primarily” to raising and harvesting crops on January 1, 2012.[15] 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.

Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.[16] 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.[17]


Complainant argues that he was using its property for agricultural purposes on January 1, 2012 and, but for the City’s actions, would have been able to bale hay from the property. Conversely, the county argues that an illegal activity cannot form the basis for a classification decision. No one disputes that the City of Platte City has an ordinance which prohibits allowing grass of any kind to grow about 12 inches high. Likewise, no one disputes the fact that Platte City has a right to enter into such ordinances. Further, Counsel for Complainant failed to advance any argument as to how said ordinances and the statutes should be read together. It seems likely that the legislature is aware that said ordinances exist and, at least as far as vacant and unused land, the legislature and courts have addressed how those ordinances should be considered when making a determination of highest and best use, i.e., they are to be considered but are not necessarily controlling. The legislature has not addressed how City ordinances should be treated when the taxpayer decides, unilaterally, to engage in non-conforming use. However, it is not necessary that we look at reading the ordinance and the statute together in this case.

In Mr. Mann’s testimony, he stated that the City has no objection to certain crops being planted on land within the City limits. In fact, Complainant has now planted winter wheat on said land and apparently the City has voiced no objection to that. Indeed, now that the winter wheat has been planted, the County has changed the land classification. In light of this, it seems more likely than not that the City, and subsequently the Board of Equalization, perceived what Complainant had growing on his property was more weeds than hay. We have no pictures of what was actually growing on the property on the tax day. We have no records of any hay seed being planted on the property. We have no record of the property being fertilized or treated with an herbicide. We have no evidence of soil tests conducted to ascertain what was needed to produce a good hay crop. We have no evidence of anything actually being taken off the property for the feeding of livestock. We only know that neither the City nor the Board felt what was happening on the property constituted an agricultural use.

Mr. Mann’s testimony is not substantial and persuasive to overcome the presumption in favor of the Board of Equalization.


The assessed valuations for the subject parcels as determined by the Assessor and sustained by the Board of Equalization for Platte County for the subject tax day are AFFIRMED.

A party may file with the Commission an application for review of this decision within thirty (30) days of the mailing date shown 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, MO 65102-0146, 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. [18]

The Collector of Platte County, 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 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 July 17, 2013.



Luann Johnson

Senior Hearing Officer


Certificate of Service


I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been mailed postage prepaid this 17th day of July, 2013, to: Tom Ryczek, 2300 Higgins Road, P.O. Box 1517, Platte City, MO 64079, Attorney for Complainant; John Shank, 9800 N.W. Polo, Suite 100, Kansas City, MO 64153, Attorney for Respondent; David Christian, Assessor; 415 Third Street, P.O. Box 20, Platte City, MO 64079; Joan Harms, Clerk, 415 Third, P.O. Box 30, Platte City, MO 64079; Sheila Palmer, Collector; 409 Third, P.O. Box 40, Platte City, MO 64079.


Barbara Heller

Legal Coordinator


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


[2] Section 536.070(6), RSMo.


[3] State ex rel. Horton v. Bourke, 129 S.W.2d 866, 869 (1939); Barth v. Kansas City Elevated Railway Company, 44 S.W. 788, 781 (1898).


[4] – Burton v. Moulder, 245 S.W.2d 844, 846 (Mo. 1952); Knorp v. Thompson, 175 S.W.2d 889, 894 (1943); Bushman v. Barlow, 15 S.W.2d 329, 332 (Mo. banc 1929)


[5] State ex rel St. Louis Public Service Company v. Public Service Commission, 291 S.W.2d 95, 97 (Mo. banc 1956).


[6] In re Murphy, 732 S.W.2d 895, 902 (Mo. banc 1987); State v. Gilmore, 681 S.W.2d 934, 940 (Mo. banc 1984); State v. Keeble, 399 S.W.2d 118, 122 (Mo. 1966).


[7] Section 536.070(6) RSMo.

[8] 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).


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


[10] Northtown Village v. Don Davis, Assessor, Jasper County. Mo., Appeal Nos. 03-62558 (May 27, 2004) providing that the definitions in Section 137.016 (2000) illustrate that “the classification turns on the actual use put to the property.”


[11] Dickerson v. Curtis Koons, Assessor, Cass County, Mo. Appeal Number 01-49004 (June 11, 2002); Ernest W. Giddens, Trustee v. Rick Kessinger, Assessor, Greene County, MO., Appeal No. 05-33000 (Commission Decision April 19, 2007).


[12] Section 138.430.2, RSMo.


[13] St. Louis County v. Security Bonhomme, Inc., 558 S.W.2d 655, 659 (Mo. banc 1977); St. Louis County v. STC, 515 S.W.2d 446, 450 (Mo. 1974); Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company v. STC, 436 S.W.2d 650 (Mo. 1968).


[14] St. Louis County v. Boatmen’s Trust Co., 857 S.W.2d 453, 457 (Mo. App. E.D. 1993); Vincent by Vincent v. Johnson, 833 S.W.2d 859, 865 (Mo. 1992); Beardsley v. Beardsley, 819 S.W.2d 400, 403 (Mo. App. 1991); Curnow v. Sloan, 625 S.W.2d 605, 607 (Mo. banc 1981).


[15] Hermel, Inc. v. State Tax Commission, 564 S.W.2d 888, at 897.


[16] See, Cupples-Hesse Corporation v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959).


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


[18] Section 138.432, RSMo 2000.