BEFORE THE STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION
FOR THE STATE OF WYOMING
IN THE MATTER OF THE APPEAL OF )
STEVEN AND JUNG JA MALANDRIS FROM )
A DECISION OF THE LARAMIE COUNTY ) Docket No. 2001-138
BOARD OF EQUALIZATION - 2001 )
PROPERTY VALUATION )
FINDINGS OF FACT
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
DECISION AND ORDER
Steven Malandris, appearing on behalf of Jung Ja Malandris and himself, pro se.
Peter H. Froelicher, Laramie County Attorney, appearing for the Laramie County
This matter was considered by the State Board of Equalization (Board) consisting of
Edmund J. Schmidt, Chairman, Roberta A. Coates, Vice-Chairman, and Sylvia Lee Hackl,
Member, on written information pursuant to a Briefing Order (Locally Assessed Property)
dated September 21, 2001, and oral argument presented by the parties on January 2, 2002.
The appeal arises from a decision of the Laramie County Board of Equalization (County
Board). Petitioners contend the decision of the County Board was in error because it
upheld a value in excess of the fair market value of their property. On appeal, the Board
must consider the following issue:
Was the County Board decision upholding the value of the property as assigned by the assessor supported by substantial evidence, in accordance with procedures required by law, and neither arbitrary, capricious, nor inconsistent with law?
The State Board is mandated to "hear appeals from county boards of equalization .
. . upon application of any interested person adversely affected" and to 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 Board within thirty (30) days
from entry of the county board decision. Rules, Wyoming State Board of Equalization,
Chapter 3, 2.
Petitioners appealed the Assessor's 2001 valuation of their property because:
1) They believed neighboring property had not increased in value as much as theirs;
2) Their insurance agent, various Realtors, and a property inspector disagreed with the value as set by the Assessor; and
3) Their house is not the same quality of the other homes in the neighborhood.
The Assessor testified at the County Board hearing that she valued Petitioners'
property in accordance with the Wyoming statutes and the rules of the Department of
Revenue. She further testified that she had verified the characteristics of the property
used for the valuation and used the Computer-Assisted Mass Appraisal System (CAMA) along
with a "location multiplier" to arrive at fair market value. The County Board
entered an order affirming the value as set by the Assessor.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. The property in dispute is a house and land located at 800 Oakhurst Drive, Cheyenne,
Laramie County, Wyoming. The house is a two story, single family residence with a two car
attached garage and two and one half baths. The house was built in 1986
and is 1900 square feet on a 10,200 square foot lot. [County Board Record, Exhibit
A, Transcript of County Board Hearing p. 33].
2. The property was purchased in September 1987. Since the purchase, the Petitioners
have not invested in the house other than once painting the outside of the home and
replacing the shake shingle roof with asphalt shingles. Petitioners do not think their
house is like others in the neighborhood because: the house has hot air (forced air) heat
as opposed to hot water heat; is a tract home not custom built; the house is a two-by-four
home and not a two-by-six home; and the home has standard appliances that have not been
replaced. Their home does not have a Jacuzzi, central air conditioning nor designer
cabinets. [Transcript of County Board Hearing pp. 13-15, 18, 33, 54].
3. The Assessor's valuation of the property increased 13.28% from the 2000 assessment
to the 2001 assessment. The difference in taxes is $151.68, and the increase in valuation
is $20,000. Petitioners appealed because they believe they are being discriminated against
because their neighbor's property did not increase in value by the same percentage. [Transcript
of County Board Hearing pp. 7, 39, 56].
4. Petitioners contacted an insurance agent to increase the insurance coverage based on
the value of the property as set by the assessor. The agent refused. Petitioners contacted
unidentified realtors who estimated the value of the property to be between $160,000 and
$168,000. The value assigned by the Assessor was $182,000. Petitioners also consulted an
unknown building inspector who observed various problems with the home including soil
instability. Petitioners failed to introduce any independent evidence of value through
testimony or written estimates of value. [Transcript of County Board Hearing p.
5. The Assessor's office viewed the outside of the property on February 23, 2001. An
Assessment notice was sent on March 13, 2001, valuing the property at $182,815. The
Assessor and Petitioners verified the characteristics of the property during a conference
in the Assessor's office on April 15, 2001. The Assessor requested to view the inside of
the home. Petitioners declined the visit because of unfortunate incidents that had
occurred at their property. [Transcript of County Board Hearing pp. 32, 33, 34].
6. The Assessor assigned a class "C" quality of construction to the house.
There are two higher classes of construction for homes that are custom built or have
better quality construction. The condition assigned to the home was "average."
Adjusting for the quality of construction and the condition was a good way to address some
of Petitioners' concerns. [Transcript of County Board Hearing pp. 34, 36, 45].
7. The characteristic information was keyed into the CAMA system as required by the
Department of Revenue Rules. The CAMA system calculated the value from the characteristics
using the Replacement Cost New Less Depreciation (RCNLD) method. The Assessor then
adjusted the CAMA value using a "location adjustment" derived from the sales
comparison method. [Transcript of County Board Hearing pp. 32-34, 61].
8. Petitioners filed an "Official Appeal of Assessment" on April 10, 2001. [County
Board Record p. 68].
9. The County Board held a hearing on June 12, 2001. The County Board entered an Order
on July 27, 2001, affirming the value as set by the Assessor. [County Board
Record, pp. 69-75].
10. Petitioners timely filed their Notice of Appeal with the State Board on August 8,
11. Any Discussion above or Conclusion of Law below which includes a finding of fact may also be considered a Finding of Fact and, therefore, is incorporated herein by this reference.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
12. Petitioners' Notice of Appeal was timely filed and the Board has jurisdiction to
determine this matter.
13. The Board's inquiry is limited to whether the decision of the County Board 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.
14. As a reviewing body, we will not substitute our judgment for findings reasonably
supported by evidence in the County Board record. Laramie County Board of Equalization
v. State Board of Equalization, 915 P.2d 1184, 1189 (Wyo. 1996); Amax Coal v.
State Board of Equalization, 819 P.2d 825 (Wyo. 1991); Sage Club, Inc. v.
Employment Security Commission, 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, 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, 819 P.2d at 828. "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,
1348 (Wyo. 1995).
15. 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. v. State Board of Equalization, 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, supra.
16. The relevant statute provides:
Wyo. Stat. 39-11-101. Definitions.
(a) As used in this act unless otherwise specifically provided:
(vi) "Fair market value" means the 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.
This same definition is found in the Department of Revenue Rules, Chapter 9, Section
17. Assessors are to value property using the methods prescribed by the Department of
Revenue. Wyo. Stat. 39-13-103(b)(ii) and 39-11-102(c)(xv). The methods to value
property are: 1) the sales comparison approach, 2) the cost approach, 3) the income or
capitalized earnings approach, and 4) the Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal approach. Rules,
Department of Revenue, Chapter 9, 6. The Assessor used the CAMA system and
thus the cost approach and the sales comparison approach.
18. An assessor's valuation is presumed valid, accurate and correct, which presumption
survives until overturned by credible evidence. Basin Electric Power Coop. v. Dept. of
Revenue, 970 P.2d 841, 851 (Wyo. 1998). The burden was on Petitioners to demonstrate
the property was overvalued.
19. Petitioners failed to present any evidence to dispute the Assessor's value other
than uncorroborated oral testimony about unknown third parties' opinions. There was no
evidence as to how the third parties derived their valuation decisions. Oral testimony,
unsupported by adequate documentary evidence, has been deemed insufficient to refute an
Assessor's value. In the Matter of the Appeal of Crook County Assessor from a Decision
of the Crook County Board of Equalization, 2002 WL 233552 (Wyo. St. Bd. Eq.
20. The Assessor's valuation is based on experience, appraisal training and knowledge
of all the sales in the area. A mere difference of opinion as to value is not sufficient
to overcome the presumption that an assessor's valuation is presumed valid, accurate, and
correct. J. Ray McDermott & Company v. Hudson, 370 P.2d 364, 370 (Wyo. 1962).
The Assessor's valuation is presumed valid if the CAMA system is used. The Wyoming Supreme
Court recognized the validity of the CAMA system because it results in uniformity of
assessment. Gray v. Wyoming State Board of Equalization, 896 P.2d 1347 (Wyo.
21. It is unfortunate Petitioners have experienced problems in the neighborhood but
there was no showing the value of the property had been affected. The Assessor
demonstrated the characteristics of the house had been adjusted for some of the factors
Petitioners felt were different from neighboring property. Petitioners testified the
assessed value of the neighboring property was not raised by the same percentage as their
property but there was no showing that fair market value had not been determined for both
IT IS THEREFORE HEREBY ORDERED:
A. The decision of the Laramie County Board of Equalization affirming the 2001
determination of fair market value of $182,815.00 for Petitioners' property located at 800
Oakhurst, Cheyenne, Laramie County Wyoming, shall be and the same is hereby 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 26th day of April, 2002.
STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION
Edmund J. Schmidt, Chairman
Roberta A. Coates, Vice-Chairman
Sylvia Lee Hackl, Member
Wendy J. Soto, Executive Secretary