821 N.E.2d 466 (Ind.Tax 2005), 49T10-0404-TA-20, Long v. Wayne Tp. Assessor

Docket Nº:49T10-0404-TA-20.
Citation:821 N.E.2d 466
Party Name:William and Dorothy LONG, Petitioners, v. WAYNE TOWNSHIP ASSESSOR, Respondent.
Case Date:January 28, 2005
Court:Tax Court of Indiana
 
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Page 466

821 N.E.2d 466 (Ind.Tax 2005)

William and Dorothy LONG, Petitioners,

v.

WAYNE TOWNSHIP ASSESSOR, Respondent.

No. 49T10-0404-TA-20.

Tax Court of Indiana.

January 28, 2005

Page 467

Gary M. Timpe, Attorney at Law, Indianapolis, IN, Attorney for Petitioners.

Steve Carter, Attorney General of Indiana, John D. Snethen, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, IN, Attorneys for Respondent.

ORDER ON THE PARTIES' CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

FISHER, J.

The Petitioners, William and Dorothy Long (the Longs), appeal from a final determination of the Indiana Board of Tax Review (Indiana Board) valuing their real property for the March 1, 2002 assessment date. The matter is currently before the Court on the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. The sole issue for this Court's review is whether the Longs made a prima facie showing that their assessment was erroneous.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The Longs own a multi-family, row-type dwelling at 32-34 North Sheffield, Indianapolis,

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Indiana. For the 2002 assessment, the Wayne Township Assessor (Assessor) assigned the Longs' property an assessed value of $87,800 (land at $5,400 and the improvement at $82,400).

Believing this value to be too high, the Longs appealed the assessment to the Indiana Board. On December 16, 2003, the Indiana Board conducted a hearing on the Longs' appeal. On March 15, 2004, the Indiana Board issued a final determination affirming the assessment.

The Longs subsequently filed an appeal with this Court. On July 27, 2004, the Indiana Board filed a motion for summary judgment. The Longs filed a cross-motion for summary judgment on September 27, 2004. 1

On November 23, 2004, the parties waived a hearing on their motions for summary judgment. Instead, the parties requested that the matter be resolved on the basis of their briefs. Additional facts will be supplied as necessary.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

This Court gives great deference to final determinations of the Indiana Board. Wittenberg Lutheran Vill. Endowment Corp. v. Lake County Prop. Tax Assessment Bd. of Appeals, 782 N.E.2d 483, 486 (Ind. Tax Ct.2003), review denied. Consequently, the Court will reverse a final determination of the Indiana Board only if it is:

(1) arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law;

(2) contrary to constitutional right, power, privilege, or immunity;

(3) in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or short of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations;

(4) without observance of procedure required by law; or

(5) unsupported by substantial or reliable evidence.

IND.CODE ANN. § 33-26-6-6(e) (1)-(5) (West Supp.2004).

The burden of demonstrating the invalidity of an Indiana Board final determination rests with the challenging party. See Osolo Township Assessor v. Elkhart Maple Lane Assocs., L.P., 789 N.E.2d 109, 111 (Ind. Tax Ct.2003). To meet this burden, the challenging party must present a prima facie case, or one in which the evidence is "sufficient to establish a given fact and which if not contradicted will remain sufficient." Lacy Diversified Indus., Ltd. v. Dep't of Local Gov't Fin., 799 N.E.2d 1215, 1218-19 (Ind. Tax Ct.2003) (citation omitted). When presenting a prima facie case, the challenging party must first offer probative evidence concerning the alleged error. See King Indus. Corp. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm'rs, 699 N.E.2d 338, 343 (Ind. Tax Ct.1998); Whitley Prods., Inc. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm'rs, 704 N.E.2d 1113, 1119 (Ind. Tax Ct.1998), review denied. Only after such evidence has been produced does the burden shift to the opposing party to rebut the evidence. See Loveless Const. Co. v. State Bd. of Tax Comm'rs, 695 N.E.2d 1045, 1049 (Ind. Tax Ct.1998), review denied.

DISCUSSION

The Longs contend that the Indiana Board's final determination is not supported

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by substantial evidence. More specifically, they contend that the Indiana Board ignored their evidence that demonstrated their property's assessed value greatly exceeded its market value. The Assessor contends, on the other hand, that the Longs' evidence did not have any probative value and therefore they failed to make a prima facie case. As a result, the Assessor...

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