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Court upholds property tax assessments of Kokomo Mall

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The Indiana Tax Court Wednesday affirmed the decision by the state Board of Tax Review to reduce Kokomo Mall LLC’s commercial property assessments for the 2007-2009 tax years.

Three parcels are at issue in Howard County Assessor v. Kokomo Mall, LLC, 49T10-1109-TA-56. Parcel 20, which contains the mall and a movie theatre, was assessed at nearly $7 million in 2007, all three parcels at more than $8.23 million in 2008, and all three parcels at more than $7.4 million in 2009.

Kokomo Mall appealed and presented an appraisal completed in conformance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice valuing Parcel 20 at $4.96 million in 2007, and all three parcels at $6.08 million in 2008 and $3.99 million in 2009. The assessor claimed the mall’s evidence was riddled with errors and unreliable. She claimed the appraisal failed to comply with USPAP because it lacked transparency and did not use sufficiently reliable data in estimating the subject property’s value.

In 2011, the Indiana Board of Tax Review found, despite certain errors, that the mall’s evidence was probative as to the property’s market value-in-use and, therefore, it had presented a prima facie case that its assessments were incorrect.

The board found Parcel 20 should be assessed at a little more than $6.2 million for 2007, all three parcels at $6.08 million for 2008 and at $3.99 for 2009.

The assessor appealed, arguing that the finding the mall made a prima facie case must be reversed. The Tax Court heard arguments in April 2012.

The assessor claimed that the board did not adequately scrutinize Kokomo Mall’s unreliable evidence, but simply deferred to the appraiser’s testimony and adopted her appraisal even though it did not comply with USPAP. But Senior Judge Thomas Fisher pointed out the assessor has done nothing more than invite the court to ignore the established rule that it may not reweigh evidence nor judge the credibility of the witnesses who testified before the board.

The assessor also wants the court to reconsider the policy arising from caselaw that the mere presentation of a USPAP appraisal establishes a prima facie case.

“Even assuming arguendo that such a policy exists, the administrative record in this case reveals that the Indiana Board’s ability to independently gauge the qualitative value of the evidence and select the evidence that best reflects a property’s market value-in-use was not impeded,” Fisher wrote. “Furthermore, the Court finds that the decision to hire an appraiser or submit a USPAP compliant appraisal is more likely a litigation strategy, not the latent result of a purportedly inequitable policy.”
 
 

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

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  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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