BEFORE THE STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION
FOR THE STATE OF WYOMING
IN THE MATTER OF THE APPEAL )
JAMES RUSSELL CAMP FROM )
A DECISION OF THE WESTON ) Docket No. 2000-141
COUNTY BOARD OF EQUALIZATION )
CONCERNING THE 2000 PROPERTY )
FINDINGS OF FACT
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
DECISION AND ORDER
James Russell Camp, appearing pro-se.
Kurt Kremke, Weston County Assessor.
This matter was considered by the State Board of Equalization (SBOE) consisting of Edmund J. Schmidt, Chairman, Roberta A. Coates, Vice-Chairman, and Sylvia Hackl, Member, on written information pursuant to a Briefing Order (Locally Assessed Property) dated October 4, 2000. The appeal arises from a decision of the Weston County Board of Equalization (CBOE) affirming the 2000 valuation by the Weston County Assessor (Assessor) of property owned by James Russell Camp (Petitioner) located in Weston County, Wyoming. The Petitioner raises many issues:
1) Was the hearing officer competent?
2) Was the CBOE incorrect in not considering the purchase price as fair market value?
3) What effect on value does an existing road that is not legally established have on the property?
4) Should the value of the property be decreased because the Wyoming Department of Transportation abandoned a road project on the property?
This SBOE finds the issue to be:
Was the CBOE decision affirming the Assessor's value of Petitioner's property supported by substantial evidence, according to procedures required by law, and neither arbitrary, capricious, nor inconsistent with law?
The SBOE is mandated to "hear appeals from county boards of equalization . .
. upon application of any interested person adversely affected" and hold
hearings after due notice pursuant to the Wyoming Administrative Procedure Act
and prescribed rules and regulations. Wyo. Stat. 39-11-102.1(c). An
appeal from a county board of equalization decision must be filed with the SBOE
within thirty (30) days from entry of the county board decision. Rules,
Chapter 3, 2, Wyoming State Board of Equalization.
Petitioner appealed the 2000 assessment of vacant land located in Weston County, Wyoming. Assessor testified at the CBOE hearing that he valued Petitioner's property using comparable sales.
Petitioner questioned the value assigned to the property because the property
had been used as a dump, there was a right-of-way fence and road dividing the
property, the sales used as comparables were not comparable and he had purchased
the property for six hundred dollars ($600.00). In his initial brief he raises
the issue of the competency of the hearing officer.
The CBOE affirmed the Assessor's valuation of Petitioner's property. The CBOE
issued its decision on July 13, 2000 . Petitioner filed his Letter for Review on
August 2, 2000. Petitioner originally asked for a denovo hearing but the request
was denied based on Rules, Wyoming State Board of Equalization, Chapter 3,
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. A videotape of the CBOE hearing was provided and reviewed by the SBOE.
2. Petitioner purchased the land for the sum of six hundred dollars ($600.00) on April 3, 1999.
3. The Assessor assigned a value to the land of three thousand five hundred thirteen dollars ($3,513.00).
4. The Petitioner testified that he was familiar with real estate and had been a fee appraiser and that his purchase price was fair market value.
5. Petitioner failed to present any of the conditions of the sale at the hearing to establish that the sale met accepted definitions of fair market value.
6. Petitioner testified that: (1) six old oil wells were visible from the property, (2) a portion of the property had a curving road and right-of-way fence on it, (3) the property had been used as a dump and therefore broken glass was present and (4) surrounding property had vacated houses. In Petitioner's opinion, all of these factors detracted from the value of the property.
7. Petitioner disputed that the sales of land used by the Assessor were comparable to his property because he thought the other land was platted or could be used for grazing. The Assessor testified the other land used as comparables were no longer platted and only one other parcel was used for grazing.
8. Petitioner failed to present any evidence as to the value of the property other than the sales price he paid for the subject property.
9. The Assessor admitted establishing a value for the property was difficult because of lack of sales in the area. The Assessor used the best information he had available as of the assessment date by analyzing all sales in the vicinity from 1994 to January 1, 2000. The range of sales was between four cents per square foot to twenty-six cents per square foot. The sales price for the subject property was six tenths of a cent per square foot. The Assessor did a trend line analysis of the sales in the area and concluded that three cents per square foot was fair market value for the subject land.
10. The Assessor applied the three cents per square foot to a reduced portion of the total subject land. He deducted a portion of the land from assessment due to the road and the fence and derived a value of $3,513.00. Petitioner failed to present evidence that the portion being assessed was incorrect.
11. The Assessor testified that in his opinion the road increased the value of the land. However, there is no evidence in the record the Assessor assigned more value because of the road and the Petitioner failed to present any evidence of a value that should be deducted from the land because of the presence of the road.
12. The Petitioner testified the road on the land was built by the Wyoming Department of Transportation and that the Department later abandoned the project. However, there is no evidence in the record as to how this action effects the value of the land.
13. The Petitioner raised the issue on cross-examination that an auction of neighboring property had occurred. The Assessor explained the auction sales were after the assessment date and thus could not be used to value the property.
14. The Petitioner raised the issue of the hearing officer's competency in his initial brief. The Petitioner failed to give evidence of how he was prejudiced by the hearing officer and a review of the video tape of the hearing does not demonstrate any irregularities in the hearing.
15. The CBOE entered its decision upholding the value set by the Assessor on July 13, 2000. Petitioner filed his Letter of Appeal on August 2, 2000.
16. A Briefing Order was issued by the SBOE on October 4, 2000, to Petitioner and to the Assessor. A response was filed by Petitioner. The Assessor filed a statement disputing some of the allegations that were not raised at the CBOE hearing. The Petitioner filed a response to the Assessor's reply.
17. Any Discussion above or Conclusion of Law below which includes a finding of fact may also be considered a Findings of Fact and, therefore, is incorporated herein by this reference.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
18. All taxable property must be valued annually at fair market value. Wyo. Stat. 39-13-103(b)(ii). Fair market value is defined as:
[T]he amount in cash, or terms reasonably equivalent to cash, a well informed buyer is justified in paying for a property and a well informed seller is justified in accepting, assuming neither party to the transaction is acting under undue compulsion, and assuming the property has been offered in the open market for a reasonable time . . . .
Wyo. Stat. 39-11-101(a)(vi).
19. Article 15, Section 11, Wyo. Const. provides "[a]ll propertyshall be uniformly assessed for taxation, and the legislature shall prescribe such regulations as shall secure a just valuation for taxation of all property, real and personal."
20. The CBOE is limited to hear and determine the complaint of any person relative to any property assessed or valued, Wyo. Stat. 39-13-102(c)(iv).
21. Our inquiry is limited to whether the 2000 value established by the CBOE is: (a) arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law; (b) in excess of statutory jurisdiction or authority; (c) without observance of procedures required by law; or (d) unsupported by substantial evidence. Rules, Wyoming State Board of Equalization, Chapter 3, 9.
22. All taxable property is to be valued at its fair market value. "[T]he department shall prescribe by rule and regulation the appraisal methods and systems for determining fair market value using generally accepted appraisal standards." (emphasis added) Wyo. Stat. 39-13-103(b)(ii).
23. All property in Wyoming must be uniformly assessed and the selling price may not be the best evidence to establish fair market value, Gray v. Wyoming State Board of Equalization, 896 P.2d 1347 (Wyo. 1995).
24. The CBOE found the property sales used by the Assessor to value Petitioner's property to be comparable. The SBOE agrees with the CBOE.
25. An Assessor's valuation is presumed valid, accurate, and correct, a pre-sumption which survives until overturned by credible evidence. Teton Valley Ranch v. State Board of Equalization, 735 P. 2d 107,113 (Wyo. 1987). A mere difference of opinion as to value is not sufficient to overturn this presumption. J. Ray McDermott & Company v. Hudson, 370 P. 2d 364, 370 (Wyo. 1962).
26. One question before the SBOE is whether there is substantial evidence in the record that reasonably supports the conclusions reached by the CBOE. As a reviewing body, we will not substitute our judgment for findings reasonably supported by evidence in the CBOE record. Laramie County Board of Equalization v. State Board, 915 P.2d 1184, 1188-1189 (Wyo.1996); Amax Coal v. State Bd. Of Equalization, 819 P.2d 825 (Wyo. 1991); Sage Club, Inc. v. Employment Sec. Comm'n., 601 P.2d 1306, 1310 (Wyo. 1979). While substantial evidence may be less than the weight of the evidence, it cannot be clearly contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence. As the Wyoming Supreme Court has stated, substantial evidence ". . . is more than a mere scintilla of evidence or suspicion of a fact to be established." Mountain Fuel Supply Company v. Public Service Commission of Wyoming, 662 P.2d 878, 882 (Wyo. 1983). "Substantial evidence is relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept in support of the conclusions of the agency." Amax Coal v. State Boad Of Equalization, 819 P.2d 825 at 828 (Wyo. 1991).
27. The Wyoming Supreme Court has held that "an agency's action is arbitrary and capricious and must be reversed if any essential finding is not supported by substantial evidence." Amax Coal West, Inc., 896 P.2d 1329, 1335 (Wyo. 1995); citing, Majority of working interest owners in Buck Draw Field Area v. Wyoming Oil and Gas conservation Commission, 721 P.2d 1070,1079 (Wyo. 1986) and Amax Coal v. State Bd. Of Equalization, 819 P.2d 825(Wyo. 1991). "Substantial evidence is that quantum of relevant evidence which would be accepted by a reasonable mind as adequate to support the conclusion." Gray v. Wyoming State Board Of Equalization, 896 P.2d 1347 (Wyo. 1995).
28. The CBOE could have chosen to accept the sales price the Petitioner presented however they did not. The CBOE accepted the appraised of the Assessor and the Petitioner failed to overcome the burden of showing the Assessor was incorrect.
29. The sales of land after the assessment date cannot be used in valuing property for each tax year. Each tax year value must stand on its own and a later sales should only be considered for the following assessment cycle.
30. The price paid for a property does not necessarily determine fair market value. Gray v. Wyoming State Board of Equalization, 896 P.2d 1347 (Wyo. 1995). The Petitioner failed to present enough evidence that the sales of the subject property met the conditions of a fair market value sale.
31. There is no showing the Petitioner was prejudiced by the hearing officer and this SBOE will not reverse a CBOE decision absent such a showing.
32. The question as to the ownership of the road on the subject property is beyond this SBOE's jurisdiction. Moreover, Petitioner did not demonstrate how the ownership issue affected the value of the property.
THIS SPACE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK
IT IS THEREFORE HEREBY ORDERED:
The decision of the Weston County Board of Equalization affirming the Assessor's 2000 fair market value of the Petitioner's property is affirmed.
Pursuant to Wyo. Stat. 16-3-114 and Rule 12, Wyoming Rules of Appellate Procedure, any person aggrieved or adversely affected in fact by this decision may seek judicial review in the appropriate district court by filing a petition for review within 30 days of the date of this decision.
DATED this 27th day of February, 2001.
STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION
Edmund J. Schmidt, Chairman
Roberta A. Coates, Vice-Chairman
Sylvia Lee Hackl, Member
Wendy J. Soto, Executive Secretary