STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
|PATRICK WROBLEWSKI,||)||Appeal No. 21-10002|
|)||Parcel No. 14L320287|
|JAKE ZIMMERMAN, ASSESSOR,||)|
|ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI,||)|
DECISION AND ORDER
Patrick Wroblewski (Complainant) appeals the St. Louis County Assessor’s (Respondent) assessment valuing the subject commercial property at $79,600 as of January 1, 2021. Complainant alleges overvaluation and asserts the true value in money (TVM) of the subject property was $40,000 as of January 1, 2021. The assessment is affirmed.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- The Subject Property. The subject commercial property consists of an approximately 0.12-acre lot improved with an approximately 4,130-square-foot, single-story building located at 2554 Woodson Road in St. Louis County, Missouri. As of January 1, 2021, the building was vacant and required extensive roof repairs. In June 2021, Complainant executed a sale contract to purchase the subject property for $85,000. Complainant acquired the subject property via a general warranty deed executed on July 19, 2021.
- Assessment and Valuation. As of January 1, 2021, Respondent assessed the subject property at a fair market value of $79,600, with an assessed value of $25,470.
- Complainant’s Evidence. Complainant introduced Exhibits A through J. Exhibits A through J consist of photographs and Complainant’s handwritten notations depicting and explaining the building’s exterior and interior condition and the necessary repairs. Exhibits A through J were admitted into evidence.
Complainant testified the building was in poor condition and required extensive repairs as of January 1, 2021. Exhibits A through J confirm Complainant’s testimony. The photographs and Complainant’s testimony show roof leaks have caused significant damage to the roof structure and flooring. The bathrooms are not usable. The plumbing and electrical system needs to be replaced. The exterior of the building needs tuckpointing and new windows. As of January 1, 2021, the building was not ready for retail or office use.
Complainant did not provide contractor estimates of repair costs. Complainant testified he believed roof repairs would cost approximately $60,000. Neither Complainant’s exhibits nor his testimony utilize the comparable sales approach, income approach, or cost approach to support his proposed value.
- Respondent’s Evidence. Respondent introduced Exhibits 1 through 3 and the written direct testimony of Albert Lincoln (WDT). Each is summarized below:
|Exhibit 1||Appraisal qualification of Albert Lincoln. Lincoln has been a commercial real estate appraiser since 2004, a certified general appraiser since 2014, and has appeared as an expert witness in prior STC appeals.|
|Exhibit 2||Property Record Card (PRC) for the subject property. The PRC lists property data and models an income approach to estimate a market value of $79,600.|
|Exhibit 3||Purchaser’s Statement and General Warranty Deed showing Complainant purchased the subject property for $85,000.|
|Exhibit 4||Sale Contract dated June 16, 2021, in which Complainant agreed to purchase the subject property for $85,000. The contract included “Special Agreements” in which Complainant confirmed he was “satisfied with the results of inspections of the Property’s physical condition” including the “roof, structural, environmental, mechanical, plumbing and electrical inspections.”|
- Value. The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2021, was $79,600.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
- Assessment and Valuation. Commercial real property is assessed at 32% of its TVM as of January of each odd-numbered year. Sections 137.115.1; 137.115.5(1)(c). The TVM is “the fair market value of the property on the valuation date[.]” Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Mo. Gaming Corp., 156 S.W.3d 341, 346 (Mo. banc 2005) (internal quotation omitted). The fair market value is “the price which the property would bring from a willing buyer when offered for sale by a willing seller.” Mo. Baptist Children’s Home v. State Tax Comm’n, 867 S.W.2d 510, 512 (Mo. banc 1993). “True value in money is defined in terms of value in exchange not value in use.” Tibbs v. Poplar Bluff Assocs. I, L.P., 599 S.W.3d 1, 7 (Mo. App. S.D. 2020) (internal quotation omitted). The TVM “is a function of [the property’s] highest and best use[.]” Snider, 156 S.W.3d at 346. “Determining the true value in money is an issue of fact for the STC.” Cohen v. Bushmeyer, 251 S.W.3d 345, 348 (Mo. App. E.D. 2008).
The TVM of a property is typically determined by the sales comparison approach, the income approach, or the cost approach. Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Missouri Gaming Corp., 156 S.W.3d at 346-48. Additionally, while not necessarily conclusive, a recent, arms-length sale of the subject property may also be relevant to establishing value as of the assessment date. St. Joe Mins. Corp. v. State Tax Commn, 854 S.W.2d 526, 529 (Mo. App. E.D. 1993).
- Evidence. The hearing officer is the finder of fact and determines the credibility and weight of the evidence. Kelly v. Mo. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., Family Support Div., 456 S.W.3d 107, 111 (Mo. App. W.D. 2015). “Although technical rules of evidence are not controlling in administrative hearings, fundamental rules of evidence are applicable.” Mo. Church of Scientology v. State Tax Comm’n, 560 S.W.2d 837, 839 (Mo. banc 1977).
- Complainant’s Burden of Proof. The taxpayer bears the burden of proof and must show by a preponderance of the evidence the property is overvalued. Westwood P’ship v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152, 161 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003). The BOE’s valuation is presumptively correct. Tibbs, 599 S.W.3d at 7. The “taxpayer may rebut this presumption by presenting substantial and persuasive evidence that the valuation is erroneous.” Id. (internal quotation omitted). The taxpayer also must prove “the value that should have been placed on the property.” Id. “Substantial evidence is that evidence which, if true, has probative force upon the issues, and from which the trier of fact can reasonably decide the case on the fact issues.” Savage v. State Tax Comm’n, 722 S.W.2d 72, 77 (Mo. banc 1986) (internal quotation omitted). Evidence is persuasive when it has “sufficient weight and probative value to convince the trier of fact.” Daly v. P.D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645, 651 (Mo. App. E.D. 2002); see also White v. Dir. of Revenue, 321 S.W.3d 298, 305 (Mo. banc 2010) (noting the burden of persuasion is the “party’s duty to convince the fact-finder to view the facts in a way that favors that party”).
Property owners are competent to testify to the reasonable fair market value of their property. Cohen, 251 S.W.3d at 348. However, if owner’s testimony is based on “improper elements or an improper foundation[,]” it is not substantial and persuasive evidence rebutting the presumptively correct BOE value. Id. at 349.
- Complainant Did Not Produce Substantial and Persuasive Evidence of Overvaluation.
Complainant purchased the subject property for $85,000 six months after the January 1, 2021, valuation date. The special agreements in in the sale contract show Complainant was “satisfied with the results of inspections of the Property’s physical condition” including the “roof, structural, environmental, mechanical, plumbing and electrical inspections.” While Complainant may not have been aware of the full extent of the necessary repairs, the $85,000 sale price is consistent with the BOE value of $79,600.
Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence rebutting the presumptively correct BOE value. Complaint did not produce evidence supporting a comparable sales approach, income approach, or cost approach to value. The lack of evidence relating to a recognized valuation method renders Complainant’s proposed value speculative and unpersuasive. See Cohen, 251 S.W.3d at 349 (holding an opinion of value loses probative value when based on an improper foundation). Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence showing the BOE overvalued the subject property and “the value that should have been placed on the property.” Tibbs, 599 S.W.3d at 7.
CONCLUSION AND ORDER
Complainant did not produce substantial and persuasive evidence of overvaluation. Respondent’s assessment is affirmed. The TVM of the subject property as of January 1, 2021, was $79,600.
Application for Review
A party may file an application for review of this decision within 30 days of the mailing date set forth in the certificate of service for this decision. The application “shall contain specific detailed grounds upon which it is claimed the decision is erroneous.” Section 138.432. The application must be in writing, and may be mailed to the State Tax Commission of Missouri, P.O. Box 146, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0146, or emailed to Legal@stc.mo.gov. A copy of the application must be sent to each person listed below in the certificate of service. Failure to state specific facts or law upon which the application for review is based will result in summary denial. Section 138.432.
The Collector of St. Louis County, and 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 the disputed taxes have been disbursed pursuant to a court order under the provisions of section 139.031.
SO ORDERED September 23, 2022.
Eric S. Peterson
Senior Hearing Officer
State Tax Commission
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been electronically mailed and/or sent by U.S. Mail on September 23, 2022, to: Complainant(s) and/or Counsel for Complainant(s), the County Assessor and/or Counsel for Respondent and County Collector.
Contact Information for State Tax Commission:
Missouri State Tax Commission
421 East Dunklin Street
P.O. Box 146
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0146
 Complainant timely filed a complaint for review of assessment. The State Tax Commission (STC) has authority to hear and decide Complainant’s appeal. 12 CSR 30-3.010(1)(B).1.