BEFORE THE STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION
FOR THE STATE OF WYOMING
IN THE MATTER OF THE APPEAL OF )
FRED REYNOLDS FROM A DECISION )
OF THE LARAMIE COUNTY BOARD ) Docket No. 2001-139
OF EQUALIZATION - 2001 )
PROPERTY VALUATION )
FINDINGS OF FACT
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
DECISION AND ORDER
Fred Reynolds, Pro Se.
Peter Froelicher, Laramie County Attorney, for Brenda Arnold, Laramie County Assessor.
This matter was considered by the State Board of Equalization (State Board), Edmund J.
Schmidt, Chairman, Roberta A. Coates, Vice-Chairman, and Sylvia Lee Hackl, Member, on
written information and oral argument pursuant to a Briefing Order (Locally Assessed
Property) dated September 21, 2001. Chairman Schmidt was absent from the oral argument but
had an opportunity to review the case. The appeal arises from a decision of the Laramie
County Board of Equalization (County Board) affirming the amended 2001 valuation by the
Laramie County Assessor (Assessor) of real property and improvements owned by Fred
Reynolds (Petitioner), located at 1323 Curt Gowdy Drive, Laramie County, Wyoming.
Petitioner contends that his property is overvalued because he received a valuation from a
real estate appraiser that more accurately reflected the fair market value of his
The issue before the State Board is:
Was the County Board decision affirming the Assessor's amended taxable value of Petitioner's property supported by substantial evidence, according to 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 decision must be filed with the State Board within thirty (30) days from
entry of the decision. Rules, Wyoming State Board of Equalization, Chapter 3, 2.
Petitioner appealed to the County Board the Assessor's 2001 taxable valuation of
$164,347.00 of his real property and improvements located at 1323 Curt Gowdy Drive,
Laramie County, Wyoming.
Petitioner attempted to appeal the Assessor's valuation of his real property and
improvements for the year of 2000. However, by the time he received the Assessor's notice,
the 30-day time limit had passed. Petitioner waited a year and appealed the 2001
At the County Board hearing, the Assessor testified that Petitioner's property was
valued using the Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) system. The valuation had been
determined by gathering data obtained from numerous visits to Petitioner's property and
from a sketch of the interior of the house provided by Petitioner.
Petitioner testified it cost him $152,130.33 to purchase the land and build his home.
Petitioner relied on an appraisal and a statement of consideration to support his
contention. He argued that the value of his property should be nearer to $154,000.00.
On appeal Petitioner argues: (1) he was denied due process because his 2000 property
tax assessment was improperly delivered to his residence rather than his post office box
thus denying him a timely appeal; (2) the Assessor's valuation was arbitrary and
capricious because it did not reflect the actual valuation of his property until after an
internal inspection of his property; and (3) after the Assessor had the ability to
complete a more thorough inspection of his property, the CAMA System overpriced his land
by about $10,000.00 thus causing the inaccurate assessment. In response the Assessor
argues the County Board's decision was supported by credible evidence sufficient to
sustain the presumption of correctness afforded the Assessor's appraisal for tax purposes.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. Petitioner owns real property and improvements located at 1323 Curt Gowdy Drive,
Laramie County, Wyoming. [County Board Record, pp. 8-9, 60-61, 69, 71-72].
2. The Assessor completed an initial inspection of Petitioner's property on January 18,
2000. The information gathered was then input into the CAMA system. [County Board
Record, p. 22]. The property was assessed at $175,204.00. [County Board
Record, pp. 69, 71].
3. Later that year, Petitioner "found a card underneath [his] front porch
rug" indicating his property had been assessed at $175,204.00. Petitioner contacted
the Assessor and expressed his concern about the valuation. He was informed that the
30-day time period for appeal had passed, and he could not contest the 2000 assessment.
Petitioner argued that he had not been aware of the assessment, because it had been mailed
to his home, rather than to his Post Office box. The Assessor told him she mailed the
assessment to the property address as listed on the Statement of Consideration. [County
Board Record, pp. 8-9, 59-61].
4. An assessment schedule for Petitioner's real property and improvements was sent to
Petitioner on March 19, 2001, reflecting a fair market valuation of $177,631.00. [County
Board Record, pp. 71-72]. Petitioner timely protested the 2001 assessment. [County
Board Record, pp. 56-57].
5. The Assessor attempted to make an appointment to verify information about the
interior of the property. However, Petitioner protested the Assessor's entry into his
house. [County Board Record, pp. 15, 22-23].
6. After the Assessor sent a letter to Petitioner indicating that the value was within
statutory guidelines even without verifying information about the interior of the house,
Petitioner provided the Assessor with an interior sketch. [County Board Record,
pp. 15, 23].
7. With additional information from the sketch, and another on-site inspection
completed by the Assessor, the Assessor entered updated information into the CAMA system.
This resulted in a revised valuation of $164,347.00. [County Board Record, p. 24].
8. Petitioner was still dissatisfied with the assessment and requested a hearing before
the County Board. [County Board Record, pp. 56-57]. The County Board held
a hearing on June 12, 2001. [County Board Record, p. 1].
9. At the hearing, Petitioner provided testimony that he purchased his land for
$19,000.00 on December 15, 1998, and it cost him $134,000.00 to build his house in 1999.
In total, the land and house cost Petitioner $153,000.00. [County Board
Transcript, p. 8].
10. Petitioner also provided a Veteran's Administration "Request for Determination
of Reasonable Value," the appraisal prepared as a result of that request, and the
Statement of Consideration filed after the house was completed. The appraisal was from
Gordon Reed. The appraisal was performed on March 17, 1999, and valued Petitioner's
property at $153,000.00. [County Board Record, pp. 62-69]. The Statement
of Consideration, filed on September 20, 1999, listed the value of Petitioner's property
at $152,130.33. [County Board Record, pp. 60-61].
11. The Assessor provided evidence that she used the CAMA system to determine the fair
market value of Petitioner's property. [County Board Record, p. 24].
12. The County Board affirmed the Assessor's amended valuation of Petitioner's
property. The County Board issued its decision on July 27, 2001, and Petitioner appealed
to the State Board. [County Board Record, pp. 84-91; State Board Record, Notice of
13. On appeal, Petitioner contends the County Board erred in affirming the Assessor's
valuation. Petitioner also contends he was denied an opportunity to protest his 2000
assessment. [State Board Record, Brief of Petitioner, Audiotape of oral argument.]
14. 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
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
15. Petitioner's notice of appeal from the County Board's decision was timely filed and
the State Board has jurisdiction to determine this matter. Rules, Wyoming State Board
of Equalization, Chapter 3, 2.
16. The Board's inquiry is limited to whether the County Board's decision affirming the
Assessor's amended 2001 valuation of Petitioner's property is: (a) arbitrary, capricious
and 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.
17. Petitioner's first argument is that he was denied due process of law by not being
allowed to appeal the 2000 assessment of his property. State law requires a taxpayer to
appeal an assessment within 30 days. Wyo. Stat. 39-13-109(b)(i). Petitioner
admits that he did not timely appeal the 2000 assessment, although he argues that the
untimely filing was through no fault of his own. The assessment was mailed to the physical
location of Petitioner's house. The Assessor complied with state law in mailing the
assessment schedule to Petitioner at his last known address. Wyo. Stat.
39-13-103(b)(vii). The burden was on Petitioner to provide the Assessor with his
mailing address. In any event, since the appeal was not timely filed, the County Board did
not have jurisdiction to hear the appeal. The State Board similarly has no jurisdiction to
consider an appeal that was not filed in accordance with statutory requirements. Antelope
Valley Improvement and Service District v. State Board of Equalization, 992 P.2d 563,
566-567 (Wyo. 1999). Thus, this issue cannot be considered.
18. The remainder of Petitioner's contentions concerning his 2001 assessment raise the
question of whether or not there is substantial evidence in the record reasonably
supporting the conclusions reached by the County Board.
19. 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).
20. Article 15, Section 11 of the Wyoming Constitution requires that all property
"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." The legislature, in turn, has required the Department of Revenue
(Department) to "prescribe by rule and regulation the appraisal methods and systems
for determining fair market value using generally accepted appraisal standards." Wyo.
21. The Department has promulgated rules prescribing the methods for valuing property.
The acceptable methods include a sales comparison approach, a cost approach, an income or
capitalized earnings approach, and the Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) system. Rules,
Department of Revenue, Ch. 9, 6 (a), (b), (c), (d).
22. The Assessor utilized the CAMA system to value Petitioner's property. Petitioner
demonstrated no error or inaccuracy in the Assessor's use of the CAMA system.
23. An assessor's valuation is presumed valid, accurate, and correct. This presumption
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 overcome the presumption. J. Ray McDermott & Company v.
Hudson, 370 P.2d 364, 370 (Wyo. 1962). The presumption is especially valid where the
Assessor valued the property according to the Department's Rules and Regulations which
provide for the use of the CAMA system in the assessment of real property. Rules,
Department of Revenue, Chapter 9, 6(b), (d).
24. The Wyoming Supreme Court has recognized the validity of valuations derived from
the CAMA system. Gray v. Wyoming State Board of Equalization, 896 P.2d 1347 (Wyo.
1995). In fact, the Court rejected the use of actual sales price for properties in favor
of the value established by the CAMA system because of the equality and uniformity derived
by its use. Id. at 1351.
25. In determining whether or not there is substantial evidence in the record, the
State Board will not substitute its 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, 1188 -1189 (Wyo.1996); Amax Coal v. State Board 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 a
term of art, best described as relevant evidence that a reasonable mind can accept as
adequate to support an agency's conclusion." Sidwell v. State Worker's
Compensation Div., 977 P.2d 60, 63 (Wyo. 1999).
26. Although Petitioner provided an appraisal (completed March 17, 1999) and a
statement of consideration (dated September 17, 1999) that his property was valued near
$153,000.00, these valuations were out of date and not sufficient to overcome the
Assessor's presumptively accurate valuation of $164,347.00 using the CAMA System.
Petitioner did not provide any evidence of the valuation of his property or land in the
year 2001. Petitioner thus failed to carry his burden of demonstrating any error in the
Assessor's valuation of his property.
27. The County Board decision affirming the Assessor's amended value of Petitioner's
property was supported by substantial evidence, in accordance with procedures required by
law, and was neither arbitrary, capricious nor inconsistent with law.
THIS SPACE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK
IT IS THEREFORE HEREBY ORDERED:
The decision of the Laramie County Board of Equalization affirming the
Assessor's 2001 amended valuation of Petitioner's property located at 1323 Curt Gowdy
Drive, Laramie County, Wyoming, 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 18th day of April, 2002.
STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION
Edmund J. Schmidt, Chairman
Roberta A. Coates, Vice-Chairman
Sylvia Lee Hackl, Member
Jana R. Fitzgerald, Executive Assistant