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Fort Wayne, Indiana             Attorney General of Indiana         Indianapolis, Indiana
                            TED J. HOLADAY
                            Deputy Attorney General
                            Indianapolis, Indiana

MICHAEL GRADEL,                                                    )    
             Petitioner,                                                )
v.                                                                      ) Cause No. 49T10-9807-TA-00082
STATE BOARD OF TAX COMMISSIONERS,                                       )                                             
                         Respondent.                                    )

COMMISSIONERS _____________________________________________________________________

October 29, 1998


    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, 1996.
    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.
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 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 2 The State 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.
    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