State Tax Commission of Missouri
O. GARY & DARLENE KIRKPATRICK,)
v.) Appeal Number 07-32561
SCOTT SHIPMAN, ASSESSOR,)
ST. CHARLES COUNTY,MISSOURI,)
DECISION AND ORDER
Decision of the St. Charles County Board of Equalization sustaining the assessment made by the Assessor is AFFIRMED.Hearing Officer finds presumptions of correct assessment not rebutted. True value in money for the subject property for tax years 2007 and 2008 is set at $225,120, residential assessed value of $42,770.
Complainant, O. Gary Kirkpatrick, appeared pro se.
Respondent appeared by Assistant County Counselor,Charissa Mayes.
Case heard and decided by Senior Hearing Officer W. B. Tichenor.
The Commission takes this appeal to determine the true value in money for the subject property on January 1, 2007.
Complainant appeals, on the ground of overvaluation, the decision of the St. Charles County Board of Equalization, which sustained the valuation of the subject property.The Assessor determined an appraised value of $225,120, assessed value of $42,770, as residential property.Complainant proposed a value of $185,000, assessed value of $35,150.A hearing was conducted on May 6, 2008, at theSt. CharlesCountyAdministrationBuilding,St. Charles,Missouri.
The Hearing Officer, having considered all of the competent evidence upon the whole record, enters the following Decision and Order.
Mr. Kirkpatrick appeared and testified in his own behalf.He gave his opinion of value as $185,000.This was based on what he thinks the subject property was worth in comparison to the two end units of the subjectthree unit building, based on a per square foot value.The owner’s opinion of value was based on the Assessor’s appraised value of the two end units.No documentation from the market was provided to support a fair market value of $185,000 for the subject property as of January 1, 2008.
Respondent placed into evidence the testimony of Mr. Thomas P. Babb, Missouri State Certified General Appraiser.The appraiser testified as to his appraisal of the subject property.The Appraisal Report, Exhibit 1, of Mr. Babb was received into evidence.Mr. Babb arrived at an opinion of value for the subject property of $230,000 based upon a sales comparison approach to value and a cost approach value of $225.120.
In performing his sales comparison analysis, the appraiser relied upon the sales of five other condominium units deemed comparable to the subject.The adjusted sales prices of the comparables fell in a range from $215,560 to $251,500, with a median of $230,950, and an average of $230,470.The adjusted per square foot values were in a range of $109.64 to $127.92 compared to the unadjusted range of $111.22 to $152.36.The percentage of sale price adjustments ranged from 2.6% to 14.4%, with a 6.3% median and a 7.3% average.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1.Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper.Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the St. Charles County Board of Equalization.
2.The subject property is located at11 Lockhaven Court,Lake St. Louis,Missouri.The property is identified by parcel ID number 4-0022-6306-00-11 and Account number A884000154.The property consists of a brick and frame, two-story townhouse condominium of good construction and in average condition.The unit has two bedrooms, three and a half baths and 1,966 square feet of living area, with a partially finished basement.The unit was built in 1987.Ancillary to the unit is a two-car attached garage.
3.There was no evidence of new construction and improvement from January 1, 2007, to January 1, 2008.
4.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, 2007, to be $185,000, as proposed.
5.The sale properties utilized by Respondent’s appraiser were comparable to the subject property for the purpose of making a determination of value. The five properties were located within .37 to 1.03 miles of the subject.The sales occurred in a range from May 2006 to June 2007, all relevant to the tax date of January 1, 2007.The sale properties were similar to the subject in style, quality of construction, age, condition, room, bedroom and bathroom count, living area (range of 1,536 – 1,768 square feet), location, and other amenities of comparability.
6.The appraiser made various adjustments to the comparable properties for differences which existed between the subject and each comparable.All adjustments were appropriate to bring the comparables in line with the subject for purposes of the appraisal problem.
7.Respondent’s evidence met the standard of clear, convincing and cogent evidence in this appeal, under the provisions of Section 137.115, RSMo, as he was seeking to sustain the original valuation presumed to have been made by a computer, computer-assisted method or a computer program.Respondent’s appraisal was accepted only to sustain the original assessment made by the Assessor and sustained by the Board and not for the purpose of raising the assessment above that value.
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.Article X, section 14, Mo. Const. of 1945; Sections 138.430, 138.431, RSMo.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.Section 138.431.4, RSMo.
Presumptions In Appeals
There is a presumption of validity, good faith and correctness of assessment by the CountyBoardof Equalization.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).
Notwithstanding the provision of Section 138.431.3, RSMo – “There shall be no presumption that the assessor’s valuation is correct,” – the Supreme Court of Missouri has held, “A tax assessor’s valuation is presumed correct.”Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Missouri Gaming Corp., 156 S.W.3d 341 (Mo. 2005).Citing to Hermel, supra; and Cupples Hesse Corp. v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959).
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.Snider, Hermel & Cupples Hesse, supra.Complainant’s evidence failed to meet the required standard, therefore, the presumption of correct assessment by the Board was not 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.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).It is the fair market value of the subject property on the valuation date.Hermel, supra.
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.
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; Exhibit 1, p. 4.
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.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).
Missouricourts have approved the comparable sales or market approach, the cost approach and the income approach as recognized methods of arriving at fair market value. 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).
Respondent’s Burden of Proof
The Respondent has imposed upon him by the provisions of Section 137.115.1, RSMo, the burden of proof to present clear, convincing and cogent evidence to sustain a valuation on residential property which is made by a computer, computer-assisted method or a computer program.There is a presumption in this appeal that the original valuation, which was sustained by the Board of Equalization, was made by a computer, computer-assisted method or a computer program.There was no evidence to rebut the presumption, therefore, in order to sustain the valuation of the subject property at $225,120, appraised value, Respondent’s evidence must come within the guidelines established by the legislature and must clearly and convincingly persuade the Hearing Officer as to the value sought to be sustained.
The statutory guidelines for evidence to meet the standard of clear, convincing and cogent include the following:
(1)The findings of the assessor based on an appraisal of the property by generally accepted appraisal techniques; and
(2) The purchase prices from sales of at least three comparable properties and the address or location thereof.As used in this paragraph, the word comparable means that:
(a)Such sale was closed at a date relevant to the property valuation; and
(b)Such properties are not more than one mile from the site of the disputed property, except where no similar properties exist within one mile of the disputed property, the nearest comparable property shall be used.Such property shall be within five hundred square feet in size of the disputed property, and resemble the disputed property in age, floor plan, number of rooms, and other relevant characteristics.
Section 137.115.1(1) & (2).
Clear, cogent and convincing evidence is that evidence which clearly convinces the trier of fact of the affirmative proposition to be proved.It does not mean that there may not be contrary evidence.Grissum v. Reesman, 505 S.W.2d 81, 85, 86 (Mo. Div. 2, 1974).The quality of proof, to be clear and convincing must be more than a mere preponderance but does not require beyond a reasonable doubt.30 AmJur2d. 345-346, Evidence section 1167.“For evidence to be clear and convincing, it must instantly tilt the scales in the affirmative when weighed against the evidence in opposition and the fact finder’s mind is left with an abiding conviction that the evidence is true.”Matter of O’Brien, 600 S.W.2d 695, 697 (Mo. App. 1980).
Respondent’s appraisal satisfied the clear, cogent and convincing standard imposed by the statute.Accordingly, the value original set by the Assessor of $225,120 presumed to have been derived from a computer program was established based upon an appraisal which was not a computer based methodology.The Board’s valuation which sustained the presumed computer program based valuation was likewise affirmed by the appraisal of Mr. Babb.
Evidence of Increase in Value
In any case in St. Charles County where the assessor presents evidence which indicates a valuation higher than the value finally determined by the assessor or the value determined by the board of equalization, whichever is higher, for that assessment period, such evidence will only be received for the purpose of sustaining the assessor’s or board’s valuation, and not for increasing the valuation of the property under appeal.Section 138.060, RSMo; 12 CSR 30-3.075.Therefore, the evidence of value in the Babb appraisal is not considered for purposes of increasing the value of Complainants’ property.It is only received and considered for sustaining the value set by the Assessor and in this instance, sustained by the Board.
Complainants’ Burden of Proof
In order to prevail, Complainants 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, 2007.Daly v. P.D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645, 651 (Mo. App. 2002);
Hermel, Inc. v. State Tax Commission, 564 S.W.2d 888, at 897. 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.” 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).See also, 84 C.J.S. Taxation §710, which states: “Even where there is no presumption in favor of the assessor’s ruling, if no evidence is offered in support of the complaint, the reviewing board is justified in fixing the valuation complained of in the amount assessed by the assessor.”
Substantial evidence can be defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.See, Cupples-Hesse Corporation v. State Tax Commission, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo. 1959).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.Brooks v. General Motors Assembly Division, 527 S.W.2d 50, 53 (Mo. App. 1975).
Owner’s Opinion of Value
The owner of property is generally held competent to testify to its reasonable market value. 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).The owner’s opinion is without probative value however, where it is shown to have been based upon improper elements or an improper foundation.Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 2008 WL 820938 (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).“Where the basis for a test as to the reliability of the testimony is not supported by a statement of facts on which it is based, or the basis of fact does not appear to be sufficient, the testimony should be rejected.”Carmel Energy at 783.
In the present case, Mr. Kirkpatrick’s opinion of value is based upon a square foot value comparison of the Assessor’s appraised value of the two end units in the subject building.This is not a methodology recognized by the Commission.It is not a means for establishing fair market value relied upon by appraisers of real property.Notwithstanding that a valuation relying on this method can be given no probative weight, the facts upon which Complainant relies were not substantiated in the record.
There was no documentation to establish essential elements of Mr. Kirkpatrick’s claim.Items such as the square footage of the other two units, the appraised values of the units, and other amenities which might add to or detract from their value were not offered into the record.Furthermore, the assertion by the taxpayer that a middle unit is of lower value generally than end units was not establish by any type of marked data or analysis.This was nothing more than an unsubstantiated assertion.
A taxpayer does not meet his burden if evidence on any essential element of his case leaves the Commission “in the nebulous twilight of speculation, conjecture and surmise.”See, Rossman v. G.G.C. Corp. of Missouri, 596 S.W.2d 469, 471 (Mo. App. 1980).Complainant has failed to meet his burden of proof on the essential elements of providing market date to establish fair market value.To conclude the value tendered by the taxpayer would be a complete exercise in speculation, conjecture and surmise, which has been rejected by the Court.
The assessed valuation for the subject property as determined by the Assessor and sustained by the Board of Equalization forSt. CharlesCountyfor the subject tax day is AFFIRMED.
The assessed value for the subject property for tax years 2007 and 2008 is set at $42,770.
A party may file with the Commission an application for review of this decision within thirty (30) days of the mailing of such decision.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.Section 138.432, RSMo 2000.
If an application for review of this decision is made to the Commission, any protested taxes presently in an escrow account in accordance with this appeal shall be held pending the final decision of the Commission and an order to the Collector to release and disburse the impounded taxes, unless said taxes have been disbursed pursuant an order of the circuit court under the provisions of Section 139.031.8, RSMo.§139.031.3, RSMo.If no application for review is received by the Commission within thirty (30) days, this decision and order is deemed final and the Collector of St. Charles County, as well as the collectors of all affected political subdivisions therein, shall disburse the protested taxes presently in an escrow account in accord with the decision on the underlying assessment in this appeal.
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 May 23, 2008.
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 May, 2008, to:O. Gary Kirkpatrick, 11 Lockhaven Court, Lake St. Louis, MO 63367, Complainant; Charissa Mayes, Assistant County Counselor, 100 North Third Street, Room 216, St. Charles, MO 63301, Attorney for Respondent; Scott Shipman, Assessor, 201 North Second, Room 247, St. Charles, MO 63301-2870; Amy Gann, Registrar, 100 North Third Street, Suite 206, St. Charles, MO 63301; Michelle McBride, Collector, 201 North Second Street, Room 134, St. Charles, MO 63301.