Kathy A. Ball, Uinta County Assessor and Petitioner, appearing pro se.

Ali Nemat, Taxpayer, not appearing or having filed a statement or brief in accordance with the State Board of Equalization's Order.


This matter was considered by the State Board of Equalization (State 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 October 5, 2001, corrected October 9, 2001, and Order Granting Extension of Time entered January 24, 2002. The appeal arises from a decision of the Uinta County Board of Equalization (County Board) reversing the valuation of property owned by Ali Nemat, located in Evanston, Uinta County, Wyoming. The issue on appeal is:

Was the County Board decision that the value of the property as assigned by the Assessor was in error and valuing the property at $127,339.00 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 State Board within thirty (30) days from entry of the county board decision. Rules, Wyoming State Board of Equalization, Chapter 3, 2.


Petitioner appealed the decision of the County Board because the County Board deducted a value for the swimming pool on the taxpayer's property.

The Taxpayer filed a Notice of Appeal with the County Board asserting that his property value had "jumped" too much. At the hearing the Taxpayer introduced two letters from appraisers stating that his swimming pool did not contribute to the value of the property. The County Board found:

13. The record in the present appeal supports a finding of arbitrariness in changing the value of the pool from a negative $13,524 to $0 in the tax year 2001. No reason for such a change was given. No reason for such a change could be found by this board.

The County Board then granted the Taxpayer's request for relief, and ordered that the value of the property be set at $127,339.00.


1. The property in dispute is a house, together with an outbuilding containing a swimming pool and land located at Block 1 Lot 2, County Club Estates Addition, commonly referred to as 1917 West Morse Lee Street, Evanston, Uinta County, Wyoming. [County Board Record, Plaintiffs Exhibit 1].

2. The Assessor valued the property at $140,863, by adjusting for an increase of value due to market demands, removing a negative adjustment for the swimming pool and adding a value for the building containing the swimming pool.

3. Taxpayer appealed stating: "The price on year 1999 was $102,769 on 2000 it was $92,031 and on year 2001 it jump $140,863 more than 55% it is an unceptable [sic] jump. [County Board Record p. 1].

4. Taxpayer stated the dispute is over a swimming pool which he cannot use. He used it for two months the first year he owned the property and hasn't used it since. [County Board Record, p. 3, and Tape Recording of Hearing].

5. Taxpayer introduced two letters about the value of the pool. Robert M. Hughes, who signed as WY Certified RREA #55, stated: "Historically when these homes have sold the built-in swimming pools have added no additional value in the market. Their respective sales prices have been similar to homes equal in square footage that had no swimming pools." Dave Kimball, who signed "Appraiser", wrote: "With the cost of energy increasing a swimming pool becomes even less feasible and more of a financial burden, thus little or no value could be assigned a swimming pool." The authors of the letters did not appear or offer testimony. The letters do not fit any standards for an appraisal. [County Board Record, pp.12-13].

6. The property was purchased in 1991 as a result of a foreclosure. [County Board Record, p. 3]. The economy in the county has improved since the time the property was purchased, and comparable properties have sold on the open market. As a result of comparing the sales price to the Taxpayer's property, there was an adjustment by the Assessor to bring the value of the property to market value. [Tape Recording of County Board Hearing].

7. The Assessor explained the property was reviewed in 2000. She discovered the swimming pool value had historically been subtracted from the value of the property. The Assessor testified that subtracting the value of the pool was an error. The Assessor corrected the error: she did not subtract the value of the pool, but also did not add the value of the swimming pool to the assessment. The Assessor added the value of the building where the pool is located as a storage shed.[County Board Record, p. 4, Tape Recording of County Board Hearing].

8. The County Board issued its order on August 3, 2001. The Assessor timely filed a Notice of Appeal with the State Board on August 30, 2001.

9. All other issues the Taxpayer addressed at the hearing were rejected by the County Board. Because the Taxpayer failed to file a brief or appear before the State Board, those other issues will not be addressed in this opinion.

10. 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.


11. The Assessor's Notice of Appeal was timely filed and the State Board has jurisdiction to determine this matter.

12. The State 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.

13. 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).

14. 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.

15. 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 2(f).

16. 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 sales comparison approach to value the property.

17. 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 the Taxpayer to demonstrate the property was overvalued.

18. 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).

19. There was no evidence to support subtracting the value of the swimming pool from the value of the home. The evidence, the uncorroborated letters introduced by the Petitioner, supports not adding any value for the pool. [County Board Record, pp.12-13]. The Assessor did not add any value to the property for the swimming pool. The Assessor simply removed the negative value from the prior assessment and added $12,960 to the property for the value of the outbuilding where the pool was located as a storage shed. The Assessor's actions were supported by the evidence. The County Board's findings are not support by any evidence, whatsoever. Therefore, it is necessary to reverse the County Board's Order.



A. The decision of the Uinta County Board of Equalization setting the fair market value at $127,339.00 for the Taxpayer's property located at 1917 West Morse Lee Street, Evanston, Uinta County, Wyoming, shall be and the same is hereby reversed.

B. The matter is remanded to the County Board to set the value of the property in accordance with the Assessor's value of $140,863.00 for tax year 2001.

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 2nd day of May, 2002.


Edmund J. Schmidt, Chairman

Roberta A. Coates, Vice-Chairman

Sylvia Lee Hackl, Member


Wendy J. Soto, Executive Secretary