State Tax Commission of Missouri
RAY-CARROLL COUNTY GRAIN GROWERS,)
v.) Appeal Number 04-48000
WANDA WITTHAR, ASSESSOR,)
CARROLL COUNTY, MISSOURI)
DECISION AND ORDER
The true value in money of the subject property on January 1, 2004, was $3,000,000 (assessed value $960,000).
The issue in this case is the true value in money of an upright concrete grain elevator and fertilizer warehouse.
On November 1, 2005, an evidentiary hearing was held before senior hearing officer Luann Johnson in the Saline County Courthouse, Marshall, Missouri.For convenience of hearing and because of some similarity in evidence and witnesses, said appeal was combined with Appeals No. 04-82000 through 04-82005, Ray-Carroll County Grain Growers v. Kent Wollard, Assessor, Ray County, Missouri, and Appeal No. 04-85000, Ray-Carroll County Grain Growers v. Margaret Pond, Assessor, Saline County, Missouri.Complainant appeared by counsel, Wayne Tenenbaum.Respondents Pond and Witthar appeared by counsel, Cathy Dean.Respondent Wollard appeared by counsel, Jim Thompson.A combined transcript was created.However, because each grain elevator is different and is located in a different county, separate decisions are written.
The subject property is classified as “commercial” real property and is assessed at 32% of its fair market value, or true value in money.The subject property was initialed valued by the Assessor at $4,425,470 (assessed value $1,416,150).Complainant proposes a value of $3,200,000 (assessed value $1,024,000).Respondent proposes a value of $4,030,000 (assessed value $1,289,600).The hearing officer finds that Respondent’s sales approach to value is the best indicator of market value and therefore sets value at $3,000,000 (assessed value $960,000).
The following Exhibits were introduced into evidence:
Exhibit A-48, Appraisal Report, Dennis E. Vogan (Carroll County)
Exhibit B-48, Written Direct Testimony, Dennis E. Vogan (Carroll County)
Exhibit A-82, Appraisal Report, Dennis E. Vogan (Ray County)
Exhibit B-82, Written Direct Testimony, Dennis E. Vogan (Ray County)
Exhibit A-85, Appraisal Report, Dennis E. Vogan (Saline County)
Exhibit B-85, Written Direct Testimony, Dennis E. Vogan (Saline County)
Exhibit 1, Appraisal Report of Alan Schmook (Saline County)
Exhibit 2, Appraisal Report of Alan Schmook (Carroll County)
Exhibit 3, Appraisal Report of Alan Schmook (Ray County)
Exhibit 4, Audited Financial Statements of Farmers Grain Terminal, LLC (1999, 2000)
Exhibit 5, Audited Financial Statements of Farmers Grain Terminal, LLC (2000, 2001)
Exhibit 6, Audited Financial Statements of Farmers Grain Terminal, LLC (2001, 2002)
Exhibit 7, Audited Financial Statements of Farmers Grain Terminal, LLC (2002, 2003)
Exhibit 8, Audited Financial Statements of Farmers Grain Terminal, LLC (2003, 2004)
Exhibit 9, Ray-Carroll County Grain Consolidated Year-to-Date Area Boxscore 1999
Exhibit 10, Ray-Carroll County Grain Consolidated Year-to-Date Area Boxscore 2000
Exhibit 11, Ray-Carroll County Grain Consolidated Year-to-Date Area Boxscore 2001
Exhibit 12, Ray-Carroll County Grain Consolidated Year-to-Date Area Boxscore 2002
Exhibit 13, Ray-Carroll County Grain Consolidated Year-to-Date Area Boxscore 2003
Exhibit 14, Ray-Carroll County Grain Consolidated Year-to-Date Area Boxscore 2004
Exhibit 15, Farmers Grain Terminal, LLC, Request for Financing
Exhibit 16, Operating Agreement of Farmers Grain Terminal LLC 2003
Exhibit 17, Closing Documents, Loan request 2004, obtained 2005
Exhibit 18, Farmers Grain Terminal LLC, Minutes of 12/17/04 & Farmers Grain
Terminal Grain Storage Addition Economics
Exhibit 19, Farmers Grain Terminal, LLC, Resolution to Borrow
Exhibit 20, Ray-Carroll County Grain Growers, Inc. Property, Plant &
Equipment Summary, 9-1-03 through 8-31-04
Exhibit 21, Bin Chart Ray-Carroll Elevator, Richmond, MO
Exhibit 22, Ray-Carroll Elevator Warehouse Diagram, Corner of Main and E. Lincoln St.
Exhibit 23, Ray-Carroll Elevator Warehouse Diagram, Lane and Front Streets
Exhibit 24, Ray-Carroll Elevator Warehouse Diagram, E. Main and E. Third Streets
Exhibit 25, Ray-Carroll Elevator Warehouse Diagram, Approximately One Mile East
of Carrollton on Highway 24
Exhibit 26, Farmers Grain Terminal Warehouse Diagram and Bin Chart for Slater,
Kansas City Southern Railroad and Highway 240
Exhibit 27, Warranty Deed and Construction Information, Ray-Carroll Grain
Growers, Carrollton, MO
Exhibit 28, Hardin 110 Shuttle Train Loader Economics
Exhibit 29, 1-16-98 Scope of Work & Specifications for Facility Expansion,
Ray-Carroll Grain Growers, Hardin, MO, First Expansion
Exhibit 30, 3-21-01Scope of Work & Specifications for Facility Expansion,
Ray-Carroll Grain Growers, Hardin, MO, Second Expansion
Exhibit 31, Various Quitclaim Deeds and Other Conveyances to Ray-Carroll Grain
Exhibit 32, Mike Nordwald E-Mail Regarding Patronage Payments
Exhibit 33,Farm Credit Services Documents
Exhibit 34, Written Direct Testimony of Alan Schmook (Carroll County)
Exhibit 35, Written Direct Testimony of Alan Schmook (Saline County)
Exhibit 36, Written Direct Testimony of Alan Schmook (Ray County)
FINDINGS OF FACT
1.Jurisdiction over this appeal is proper.Complainant timely appealed to the State Tax Commission from the decision of the Carroll County Board of Equalization.
2.The subject property, identified as parcel 147035000002, is a 146 acre tract improved with an 860,000 bushel slip form upright concrete grain elevator built in 1995.The subject property is further improved with (1) approximately 4,550 feet of railroad track which can accommodate up to 75 rail cars; (2) a 10,000 square foot metal frame building on a concrete foundation containing an office/warehouse ; (3) a 1,840 square foot truck dump shed consisting of a drive-thru building with metal paneling on the walls and roof and twin dump systems with a gravity flow load-out spout inside the truck bay; (4) a fuel station with a 30,000 gallon propane storage tank on concrete piers equipped with the necessary plumbing and pumping equipment for load in and load out purposes; (5) an anhydrous ammonia facility with a 1997 Trinity 30 gallon tank and a 1976 Trinity 30,000 gallon tank; (6) a bulk fertilizer facility consisting of (a) a 3,952 square food wood frame construction building having storage for 1,300 tons of dry bulk fertilizer and served by a 38 foot stainless steel leg rated at 110 TPH and (b) a 4,464 square foot wood frame construction building with wood and vinyl siding used for storage and loading; and (7) five liquid fertilizer tanks.Ex. 2, pgs. 29– 31; Ex. A-48, pgs. 50-53.
3.The existence of the shuttle train capability on the property has a significant impact on value.Large grain terminals with shuttle trains are able to accommodate larger and faster shipments due to the ability to load unit trains.This increases the value of each bushel through the reduction of overhead expense from the handling and shipping of grain.Ex. 2, pgs. 22-24.
4.The physical characteristics of the storage capability also impacts value because it impacts the speed at which the shuttle trains can be loaded.The best grain elevators can load 100-110 rail cars in under 15 hours.Tr. 9-11.It takes between 360,000 and 370,000 bushels to load a 100-car unit.Tr. 14.Upright concrete elevators are more efficient and better suited for storage and movement of grain than flat storage units or ground piles.Tr. 11, 13,16.
5.Volume, commonly referred to as thru-put, also impacts value.The largest source of income to a terminal is the income per bushel of grain sold or the total grain margin.Ex. 2, pg. 77, Tr. 41.The subject property has a thru-put ratio of 3.80 while other similar facilities have ratios of 2.63, 1.52 and 10.58.
6.The replacement cost new of the improvements is between $6,023,000 and $6,234,783. Ex. A-48, pg. 54; Ex. 2, pg. 47.The correct replacement cost new for the subject improvements is $6,023,000 as proposed by Complainant.
7.The estimated life expectancy of the subject improvements is 60 years.The improvements were 9 years old on the tax day, indicating accrued physical and functional depreciation of 15%.Ex. A-48, pg. 55.The depreciated value of the improvements is $5,119,550. There appears to be some economic obsolescence with the subject property but, Complainant’s calculation of external obsolescence is not based upon any commonly accepted methodology for determining said obsolescence and thus is can be given no weight.
8.Land sales indicate a range of value between $1,170 per acre and $6,833 per acre.Ex. 2, pg. 46.The correct land value is $75,000 for the 30 acres which compose the main site ($2,500 per acre) and $174,000 for the 116 acres of excess land ($1,500 per acre), or $249,000.Ex. A-48, pg. 53.While the sales would support both appraisers’ opinion of value, the hearing officer finds that the excess land is of lesser value.
9.The cost approach is not considered to be the more reliable indicator of value for the subject property inasmuch as it is not capable of adequately measuring the impact of thru-put on value.
10.Both appraisers calculated value under the income approach.The subject property is not an investment property and the use of the questionable application of the income approach can be demonstrated from Complainant’s appraisal report.
Complainant’s appraiser used the income and expense statements “in the development of a projected income statement for the grain operations only.”Ex. A-48, pg. 57.Based upon this reconstruction, Complainant’s appraiser calculated value for the grain elevator at $2,712,060 at a 17.33% capitalization rate.He then added in his opinion of the depreciated value of the fertilizer buildings based upon his cost approach.Ex. A-48, pg. 62.Given that Complainant’s appraiser had Complainant’s income and expense statements, the question becomes why he would choose to ignore the income derived from the fertilizer warehouse.Obviously the answer is because the fertilizer warehouse was not generating an income in and of itself, it was merely reselling a product – albeit for a profit.The distinction between what the fertilizer warehouse does and what the grain elevator does is virtually non-existent.
No market rent exists for either facility and, thus, an income approach is not a reliable indicator of the market value for subject property.
11.No similar sales were found in Missouri, but sales of similar grain elevators were found in neighbouring states.Based upon the sales, Complainant’s appraiser determined a value of the subject property of $3,280,000, which included $100,000 of value attributable to the locomotive and office furniture – arguably not real property.Ex. A-48, pg. 94.On the other hand, Respondent’s appraiser determined a value under the sales comparison approach of $3,000,000 based upon determination of overall value per bushel; value per bushel for upright concrete elevators; value per bushel for elevators with shuttle train access; and value calculated based upon put-thru.Ex. 2, pgs. 76-78.While both appraisers arrived at essentially the same value under the sales approach, Respondent’s concise treatment supports the accuracy of the value.Respondent’s appraiser used the upper range of value to account for the additional improvements to the property.
12.The sales approach represents the best indicator of value for the subject property.The correct value for the subject property on January 1, 2004, was $3,000,000.
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style=’mso-element:field-end’>CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Highest and Best Use
True value in money is the fair market value of the property on the valuation date, and is a function of its highest and best use, which is the use of the property which will produce the greatest return in the reasonably near future.Aspenhof Corp. v. State Tax Commission, 789 S.W.2d 867, 869 (Mo. App. 1990).
It is true that property can only be valued according to a use to which the property is readily available.But this does not mean that in order for a specific use to be the highest and best use for calculating the property’s true value in money, that particular use must be available to anyone deciding to purchase the property. . . .A determination of the true value in money cannot reject the property’s highest and best use and value the property at a lesser economic use of the property.Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Missouri Gaming Corp., 156 S.W.3d, 341, 348-349 (Mo. 2005).
True Value in Money
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 purchased by one who is desiring 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, Inc. v. State Tax Commission, 564 S.W.2d 888, 897 (Mo. banc 1978).
Taxpayer has Burden of Proof
In Westwood Partnership v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152 (Mo. App. E.D. 2003), the court of appeals stated:
There is no longer an automatic presumption regarding the correctness of an assessor’s valuation. Section 138.431.3. This statutory change from the previous situation in which the assessor’s valuation was presumed to be correct does not mean that there is now a presumption in favor of taxpayer. The taxpayer in a Commission tax appeal still bears the burden of proof and must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the property was improperly classified or valued. Industrial Development Authority of Kansas City v. State Tax Commission of Missouri, 804 S.W.2d 387, 392 (Mo. App.1991).
In Reeves v. Snider, 115 S.W.3d 375 (Mo. App. S.D. 2003), the court of appeals described the taxpayer’s burden as follows:
Taxpayers were the moving parties seeking affirmative relief, and as such, they bore the burden of proving the vital elements of their case, i.e., the assessments were “unlawful, unfair, improper, arbitrary or capricious.” Cupples Hesse Corp. v. State Tax Comm’n, 329 S.W.2d 696, 702 (Mo.1959); Westwood P’ship v. Gogarty, 103 S.W.3d 152, 161 (Mo. App. 2003); 84 C.J.S. Taxation §§710, 726. This is true regardless of the existence or non-existence of the challenged presumption. As the Supreme Court of Missouri explained, “even were we to hold that it [the presumption] has been overcome, the burden of proof on the facts and inferences would still remain on petitioner, for it is the moving party seeking affirmative relief.”Cupples, 329 S.W.2d at 702. 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.”
To prevail, Taxpayers had to “present an opinion of market value and then … present substantial and persuasive evidence that the proposed value is indicative of the market value of the subject property on tax day.” Daly v. P.D. George Co., 77 S.W.3d 645, 651 (Mo. App. 2002).
Substantial and Persuasive Evidence
Substantial evidence is that evidence which, if true, has probative force upon the issues, i.e., evidence favoring facts which are such that reasonable men may differ as to whether it established them, and from which the Commission can reasonably decide an appeal on the factual issues.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).
The cost approach may be based on either reproduction cost or replacement cost.The reproduction cost, or cost of construction, is a determination of the cost of constructing an exact duplicate of an improved property using the same materials and construction standards.The replacement cost is an estimate of the cost of constructing a building with the same utility as the building being appraised but with modern materials and according to current standards, design and layout.
The cost approach is most appropriate when the property being valued has been recently improved with structures that conform to the highest and best use of the property or when the property has unique or specialized improvements for which there are no comparables in the market.
While reproduction cost is the best indicator of value for newer properties where the actual costs of construction are available, replacement cost may be more appropriate for older properties.Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Missouri Gaming Corp., 156 S.W.3d, 341, 347 (Mo. 2005) (citations omitted).
The income approach determines value by estimating the present worth of what an owner will likely receive in the future as income from the property.The income approach is based on an evaluation of what a willing buyer would pay to realize the income stream that could be obtained from the property when devoted to its highest and best use.
When applying the income approach to valuing business property for tax purposes, it is not proper to consider income derived from the business and personal property; only income derived from the land and improvements should be considered.This approach is most appropriate in valuing investment-type properties and is reliable when rental income, operating expenses and capitalization rates can reasonably be estimated from existing market conditions. The initial step in applying the income approach is to find comparable rentals and make adjustments for any differences. Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Missouri Gaming Corp., 156 S.W.3d, 341, 347 (Mo. 2005) (citations omitted).
Comparable Sales Approach
The comparable sales approach uses prices paid for similar properties in arms-length transactions and adjusts those prices to account for differences between the properties.Comparable sales consist of evidence of sales reasonably related in time and distance and involve land comparable in character.This approach is most appropriate when there is an active market for the type of property at issue such that sufficient data is available to make a comparative analysis.Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Missouri Gaming Corp., 156 S.W.3d, 341, 347-348 (Mo. 2005) (citations omitted).
The three principal methods for estimating depreciation are (1) the market extraction method; (2) the age-life method; and (3) the breakdown method.Market extraction and age-life calculations are the primary methods used by most appraisers to estimate the total depreciation in a property.The breakdown method is a more comprehensive method that identifies specific elements of depreciation and treats each element separately.It enumerates the components of total depreciation, i.e., physical deterioration, functional obsolescence, and external obsolescence.
The market extraction and age-life methods tend to deal with the whole property and are easier to understand and apply.The elements of depreciation are implicit, not explicit.Both are limited in that they assume lump-sum depreciation from all causes can be expressed in an overall estimate, do not always distinguish between short-lived and long-lived items, and rely on general forecasts of effective age and remaining economic life.The age-life method is further limited in that it typically reflects a straight-line pattern of depreciation.
Regardless of the method applied, the appraiser must ensure that the final estimate of depreciation reflects the loss in value from all causes and that no form of depreciation has been considered more than once.Double charges for depreciation may produce inappropriately low value indications in the cost approach. . .
The concepts of economic life, effective age, and remaining economic life expectancy consider all elements of depreciation in one overall calculation.Therefore, the effective age estimate considers not only physical wear and tear but also any loss in value for functional and external considerations.This type of analysis is characteristic of the market extraction and age-life depreciation methods.However, the age-life method can be modified to reflect thepresence of any known items of curable physical depreciation or incurable deterioration in short-lived building components.
When estimating physical deterioration in the breakdown method, the most important age-life concepts are (1) useful life; (2) actual age; and (3) remaining useful life.The use of these terms in the breakdown method relates to the separation of physical depreciation from functional and external obsolescence.Economic life considers all three components of depreciation in one age-life estimate, whereas useful life considers only the depreciation of the physical components of a property.A building’s useful life would probably be longer than the economic life of the same building.In spite of that difference, the application of useful life in the breakdown method and economic life in the market extraction and age-life methods should yield the same approximate estimate of total depreciation. The Appraisal of Real Estate, 12th Edition, Appraisal Institute, 2001, pgs. 383-385.
Actual age, which is sometimes called historical age or chronological age, is the number of years that have elapsed since building construction was completed.Actual age serves two purposes in depreciation analysis.First, it is the initial element analyzed in the estimation of effective age.Second, in the application of the breakdown method, it is fundamental to the age-life analysis needed to estimate physical deterioration in the long-lived and short lived components of an improvement.The Appraisal of Real Estate, 12th Edition, Appraisal Institute, 2001, pg. 385.
Effective age is the age indicated by the condition and utility of a structure and is based on an appraiser’s judgment and interpretation of market perceptions.The Appraisal of Real Estate, 12th Edition, Appraisal Institute, 2001, pg. 385.
Physical deterioration is the wear and tear from regular use and the impact of the elements.The Appraisal of Real Estate, 12th Edition, Appraisal Institute, 2001, pg. 363.
Economic Obsolescence/External Obsolescence
Economic obsolescence, also called external obsolescence, is a term of art within the appraisal industry and “is the impairment of desirability or useful life arising from economic forces, such as changes in highest and best use and legislative enactments that restrict or impair property rights and changes in supply and demand relationships.It is sometimes referred to as locational obsolescence.”Economic obsolescence is generally not curable.Property Assessment Valuation, International Association of Assessing Officers, 1977, p. 160.
External obsolescence is a temporary or permanent impairment of the utility or salability of an improvement or property due to negative influences outside the property.The Appraisal of Real Estate, 12th Edition, Appraisal Institute, 2001, pg. 363.
Functional obsolescence is a term of art within the appraisal industry and is the impairment of functional capacity or efficiency and is a loss in value brought about by such factors as overcapacity, inadequacy, and changes in the art that affects the property item itself or its relation with other items composing a larger property.It is the inability of a structure to perform adequately the function for which it is currently employed.Functional obsolescence may be either curable or incurable.Property Assessment Valuation, International Association of Assessing Officers, 1977, p. 159, 170.
Functional obsolescence is a flaw in the structure, materials, or design that diminishes the function, utility and value of the improvement.The Appraisal of Real Estate, 12th Edition, Appraisal Institute, 2001, pg. 363.
An expert’s opinion must be founded upon substantial information, not mere conjecture or speculation, and there must be a rational basis for the opinion.Missouri Pipeline Co. v. Wilmes, 898 S.W.2d 682, 687 (Mo. App. E.D. 1995).The state tax commission cannot ignore a lack of support in the evidence for adjustments made by the expert witnesses in the application of a particular valuation approach.Drey v. State Tax Commission, 345 S.W.2d 228, 234-236 (Mo. 1961), Snider v. Casino Aztar/Aztar Missouri Gaming Corp., 156 S.W.3d, 341, 348 (Mo. 2005).
The testimony of an expert is to be considered like any other testimony, is to be tried by the same test, and receives just so much weight and credit as the trier of fact may deem it entitled to when viewed in connection with all other circumstances.The hearing officer, as the trier of fact, has the authority to weigh the evidence and 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 may accept it in part or reject it in part.Beardsley v. Beardsley, 819 S.W.2d 400, 403 (Mo. App. 1991); Curnow v. Sloan, 625 S.W.2d 605, 607 (Mo. 1981); Scanlon v. Kansas City, 28 S.W.2d 84, 95 (Mo. 1930).
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The assessed value determined by the Assessor and approved by the Board of Equalization, is SET ASIDE.The Commission sets market value of the subject property at $3,000,000 (assessed value $960,000). The Clerk is hereby ordered to place the foregoing new value on the books for tax year 2004.
A party may file with the Commission an application for review of a hearing officer decision within thirty (30) days of the mailing of such decision.The application shall contain specific detailed grounds upon which it is claimed the decision is erroneous.Failure to state specific facts or law upon which the appeal is based will result in summary denial.
If an application for review of a hearing officer 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.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 Carroll 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.If any protested taxes have been disbursed pursuant to Section 139.031(8), RSMo, either party may apply to the circuit court having jurisdiction of the cause for disposition of the protested taxes held by the taxing authority.
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 March 10, 2006.
STATE TAX COMMISSION OF MISSOURI
Senior Hearing Officer
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing has been mailed postage prepaid this 10th day of March, 2006, to:Wayne Tenenbaum, 4707 W. 135th Street, Suite 240, Leawood, KS 66224, Attorney for Complainant; Cathy Dean, 700 W. 47th Street, Suite 1000, Kansas City, MO 64112, Attorney for Respondent; Wanda Witthar, Assessor, 8 S. Main, Suite 4, Carrollton, MO 64633; Peggy McGaugh, Clerk, 8 S. Main, Suite 2, Carrollton, MO 64633; Alta O’Neal, Treasurer & ex officio Collector, 8 S. Main, Suite 2, Carrollton, MO 64633.