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PETITIONER APPEARING PRO SE: ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT:
MICHAEL GRADEL JEFFREY A. MODISETT
Fort Wayne, Indiana Attorney General of Indiana
TED J. HOLADAY
Deputy Attorney General
INDIANA TAX COURT
MICHAEL GRADEL, )
v. ) Cause No. 49T10-9807-TA-00082
STATE BOARD OF TAX COMMISSIONERS, )
ON APPEAL FROM FINAL A DETERMINATION OF THE STATE BOARD OF TAX
October 29, 1998
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
Michael Gradel appeals a final determination of the State Board of Tax
Commissioners (State Board) assessing a parcel of land Gradel owns as of March 1,
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Approxaimately twenty years ago, Gradel purchased undeveloped lakefront
property for approximately $8,000. (Trial Tr. at 6). Gradel purchased the property with
the intention of building a home for himself and his wife. (Trial Tr. at 7). Unfortunately,
Gradel could not get a permit to place a septic system on the property. (Trial Tr. at 7-
8). Without the permit, Gradel is unable to build on the property because there is no
sewer system that serves the area where the property is situated. (Trial Tr. at 8).
Dissatisfied with the assessed value ($1,870) of this property, Gradel filed a
Form 130 petition for review with the LaGrange County Board of Review (BOR) on
August 23, 1996. After holding a hearing, the BOR declined to change the assessed
value of the property. Gradel then filed a Form 131 petition for review with the State
Board on December 18, 1996. The State Board held a hearing and concluded that
assessed value of the property should be reduced to $1,300. Still dissatisfied, Gradel
filed this original tax appeal on July 10, 1998. On October 8, 1998, the parties tried this
cause before the Court, and the Court now issues its decision. Additional facts will be
given as necessary.
ANALYSIS AND OPINION
Standard of Review
The State Board is given great deference when it acts within the scope of its
authority. Accordingly, this Court reverses State Board final determinations only when
those determinations are unsupported by substantial evidence, are arbitrary or
capricious, constitute an abuse of discretion, or exceed statutory authority. See Clark
v. State Bd. of Tax Comm'rs, 694 N.E.2d 1230, 1233 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1998).
In arriving at its final determination, the State Board considered two issues: the
proper negative influence factorSee footnote 1
for the inability to build on the land and whether the
lot depth table was applied according to the LaGrange County Land Order.See footnote 2
Board concluded that the 85% negative influence factor was correct, but concluded that
the Land Order was improperly applied to the subject property. The correction of this
error reduced the assessed value of the subject property.
Rather than challenging these specific findings, Gradel contends that because
he is unable to build on the property (at least until the county installs a sewer system in
the area), the assessed value of his property at $1,300 is too high. In support of this
contention, Gradel argues that the property is essentially worthless and that its
assessed value should reflect this worthlessness.
The State Board is Indiana's assessing expert. See Castello v. State Bd. of Tax
Comm'rs, 638 N.E.2d 1362, 1365 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1994). As the state's assessing expert,
the State Board is vested with a great deal of discretion in determining the assessed
value of real property. Therefore, where a taxpayer challenges a State Board final
determination, an unsupported allegation that the assessment is too high is insufficient
to upset that determination. See Herb v. State Bd. of Tax Comm'rs, 656 N.E.2d 890,
893 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1995). In addition, when evaluating a State Board final determination,
this Court may not substitute its judgment for that of the State Board. See Clark, 694
N.E.2d at 1236. CONCLUSION
The evidence Gradel presented at trial does not show that the State Board
erroneously assessed the subject property. Gradel demonstrated that he will not be
able to build on the subject property until the county installs a sewer system. This, as
the State Board found, substantially reduces the value of that property. What Gradel
has not done is demonstrate that the State Board has abused its discretion in
evaluating this evidence, nor has Gradel offered any evidence tending to show that the
State Board's calculation of the assessed value of the subject property was incorrect.
Instead, Gradel asks this Court to reweigh the evidence presented at the administrative
level and hold that the State Board erred in assessing the property.
That is not the Court's function. Gradel and the State Board have different
opinions about how much loss of value is caused by the inability to build on the
property. A mere difference of opinion between the taxpayer and the State Board is an
insufficient basis upon which to overturn a State Board final determination. Cf.
Precedent v. State Bd. of Tax Comm'rs, 659 N.E.2d 701, 706 (Ind. Tax Ct. 1995).
Consequently, the final determination of the State Board is AFFIRMED.
For the reasons stated above, the Court AFFIRMS the State Board's final
determination of the assessed value of the subject property as of March 1, 1996.
Footnote: 1 1See Ind. Admin. Code tit. 50, r. 2.2-4-12 (1996).
Footnote: 2 2See Ind. Code Ann. § 6-1.1-4-13.6 (West Supp. 1998).
Converted by Andrew Scriven