Hot Springs Independent School Dist. No. 10 v. Fall River Landowners Ass'n, Nos. 11891 and 11976

CourtSupreme Court of South Dakota
Writing for the CourtMORGAN
Citation262 N.W.2d 33
PartiesHOT SPRINGS INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 10, Plaintiff and Respondent, and The Board of Equalization of the State of South Dakota, Defendant, v. The FALL RIVER LANDOWNERS ASSOCIATION, Joseph Trotter, President, and John (Joel) Rickenback, Secretary, and the County of Fall River, State of South Dakota, Defendants and Appellants.
Decision Date25 January 1978
Docket NumberNos. 11891 and 11976

Page 33

262 N.W.2d 33
HOT SPRINGS INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 10, Plaintiff
and Respondent,
and
The Board of Equalization of the State of South Dakota,
Defendant,
v.
The FALL RIVER LANDOWNERS ASSOCIATION, Joseph Trotter,
President, and John (Joel) Rickenback, Secretary,
and the County of Fall River, State of
South Dakota, Defendants and
Appellants.
Nos. 11891 and 11976.
Supreme Court of South Dakota.
Jan. 25, 1978.

Page 34

Norman K. Blatchford, Hot Springs, for Hot Springs Independent School Dist. No. 10, plaintiff and respondent.

Page 35

Horace R. Jackson of Lynn, Jackson, Shultz, Ireland & Lebrun, Rapid City, for Fall River Landowners Ass'n, defendant and appellant.

Roland E. Grosshans, Hot Springs, for County of Fall River, defendant and appellant.

MORGAN, Justice.

By this appeal we are asked to affirm the actions of the Fall River County Commissioners sitting as a board of equalization in response to a petition of a number of landowners whereby the board rejected the 1973 assessment roll as proposed by the county director of equalization, directed him to reassess all agricultural lands as provided by statutory directive, and rolled back the assessed valuation of agricultural property to the 1970 valuations.

The school district appealed the action of the county board to the state board of equalization where, after hearing the state board affirmed by a split vote. The school district then appealed to circuit court at which point the landowners' association was permitted to intervene. The case was submitted to the circuit court on a stipulated record as to what the various proposed witnesses would testify to, but did not stipulate the testimony as fact. The trial court reversed the actions of the county board and directed reinstatement of the assessment rolls from which judgment this appeal is taken. We affirm the trial court.

The primary issue is whether the 1973 assessment roll was prepared in conformity to the statutory authority and directives, particularly the provisions of SDCL 10-6-33.1 to 10-6-33.4, inclusive. The appellant contends that they were not, inasmuch as the stipulated evidence shows that the director considered sales (albeit sales of agricultural land for use as agricultural land), whereas the legislative intent was that agricultural land in South Dakota be assessed at a value based solely on capitalization of the net return derived from the operation of the land for agricultural purposes and, excluding sales statistics, the trial court held that the director of equalization had complied with the statutory directive although the stipulated evidence showed that he had used comparable sales as a factor.

Since 1931, by constitutional fiat, the legislature has, for the purposes of school taxation, classified all property within school districts into two separate classes, to-wit: agricultural property and nonagricultural property. Agricultural property is defined in SDCL 10-6-31 as "all property used exclusively for agricultural purposes which is not handled for resale by wholesale or retail dealers. It includes all land used exclusively for agricultural purposes, both tilled and untilled, * * *." Similar legislation has been passed in a number of our sister states indicating a legislative intent to ameliorate the plight of the operator on agricultural land due to rising property taxes in recent decades. The increases in the level of property taxation are considered inequitable from the farmers' viewpoint because they usually stem from increased demands for schools and compared to suburban interests, agricultural interests benefit little from schools and contribute little to the demand for them. 1

We first consider this court's scope of review in an appeal from the decision of a trial court in a trial de novo of an assessment matter. In the case of Yadco, Inc. v. Yankton County, S.D., 237 N.W.2d 665 (1975) we applied the "clearly erroneous" rule. We hold however that this rule is nonapplicable in this case; for while the case was not submitted to the trial court on a stipulation of fact, it was submitted to the court on a stipulation of what the various witnesses would testify to. Therefore, the trial court, not having heard the witnesses testify nor having been able to determine their demeanor, we can read the stipulation and review the propounded evidence in the same light as though first presented to us.

Page 36

In Williams, et al. v. Stanley County Board of Equalization, 69 S.D. 118, 7 N.W.2d 148 (1942), this court held that the decision of the board of equalization was quasi-judicial and as such was appealable under 39 SDC 12.0618 and 12.0620. This court went on to state that in these cases the issue to be tried in the circuit court "de novo" are the issues presented by the record of the board and passed on by it. The powers of the court in such cases are the same as those possessed by the board.

Two provisions in the South Dakota Constitution are basic to our determination of the interpretation of the statutes in question. Article XI, § 2, provides that:

(T)he Legislature is empowered to divide all property * * * into classes and to determine what class or classes of property shall be subject to taxation and what property, if any, shall not be subject to taxation. * * * the valuation of property for taxation purposes shall never exceed the actual value thereof. * * *

This is read in conjunction with Article VIII, § 15, which provides:

The Legislature is empowered to classify properties within school districts for purposes of school taxation, and may constitute agricultural property a separate class. Taxes shall be uniform on all property in the same class.

SDCL 10-6-31 provides that:

"For the purposes of school taxation, all property within independent school districts is hereby classified into two separate classes, to wit:

(1) Agricultural property;

(2) Nonagricultural property."

Section 10-6-31.1 further provides that: "Land devoted to agricultural use shall be classified and taxed as agricultural land without regard to the zoning classification which it may be given; * * *."

SDCL 10-6-33 provides that:

"All property shall be assessed at its true and full value in money but only sixty per cent 2 of such assessed value shall be taken and considered as the taxable value of such property upon which the levy shall be made and applied and the taxes computed."

SDCL 10-6-33.1 then provides:

In fixing the true and full value in money of property, under the provisions of § 10-6-33, the value of agricultural land as defined by § 10-6-31, and which has been used primarily for agriculture use for at least five successive years immediately preceding the tax year for which assessment is to be made shall be based on consideration of the following factors:

(1) The capacity of the land to produce agricultural products as defined in § 10-6-33.2;

(2) Soil, terrain and topographical condition of the property;

(3) The present market value of said property as agricultural land; 3

(4) The character of the area of place in which said property is located; and

(5) Such other agricultural factors as may from time to time become applicable.

SDCL 10-6-33.2 then goes on to define how the determination of the capacity to produce shall be made, referring the county director or board to determinations of carrying capacity as determined by the soil conservation service, ASCS, extension service, Federal Land Bank and private lending agencies.

In reviewing a case requiring statutory construction we must of course consider all of the statutes and construe them so as to give the...

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26 practice notes
  • State v. Buffalo Chip, #28916
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • November 10, 2020
    ...has any bearing on a statute's meaning as originally expressed. See Hot Springs Indep. Sch. Dis. No. 10 v. Fall River Landowners Ass'n, 262 N.W.2d 33, 38 (S.D. 1978). However, "if the court does consider a subsequent amendment, the court must decide whether the purpose of the amendment was ......
  • Hughbanks v. Dooley, No. 27345.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • October 26, 2016
    ...It is similarly within this Court's power to interpret statutes. See Hot Springs Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 10 v. Fall River Landowners Ass'n, 262 N.W.2d 33, 39 (S.D.1978) (noting that "[t]he interpretation of an existing statute is a judicial ... function" (quoting Des Moines Ind. Community Sch......
  • Mann v. Board of Assessors of Wareham
    • United States
    • Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
    • August 3, 1982
    ...the income method over the modified comparable sales approach); Hot Springs Independent School Dist. v. Fall River Landowners Ass'n, 262 N.W.2d 33 (S.D.1978); King v. Real, 466 S.W.2d 1 The modified comparable sales approach described above has been criticized as impractical, Bussa v. Glast......
  • Refusal of State Bd. of Equalization to Hear Appeal of Lake Poinsett Area Development Ass'n, Matter of, Nos. 13803
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • March 2, 1983
    ...of Butte v. South Dakota State Board of Equalization, 263 N.W.2d 140 (S.D.1978); Hot Springs Indep. Dist. v. Fall River Landowners, 262 N.W.2d 33 (S.D.1978). In the companion cases of County of Butte and Hot Springs, the appellants argued that SDCL 10-6-33.1 resulted in a determination of c......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
26 cases
  • State v. Buffalo Chip, #28916
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • November 10, 2020
    ...has any bearing on a statute's meaning as originally expressed. See Hot Springs Indep. Sch. Dis. No. 10 v. Fall River Landowners Ass'n, 262 N.W.2d 33, 38 (S.D. 1978). However, "if the court does consider a subsequent amendment, the court must decide whether the purpose of the amendment was ......
  • Hughbanks v. Dooley, No. 27345.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • October 26, 2016
    ...It is similarly within this Court's power to interpret statutes. See Hot Springs Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 10 v. Fall River Landowners Ass'n, 262 N.W.2d 33, 39 (S.D.1978) (noting that "[t]he interpretation of an existing statute is a judicial ... function" (quoting Des Moines Ind. Community Sch......
  • Mann v. Board of Assessors of Wareham
    • United States
    • Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
    • August 3, 1982
    ...the income method over the modified comparable sales approach); Hot Springs Independent School Dist. v. Fall River Landowners Ass'n, 262 N.W.2d 33 (S.D.1978); King v. Real, 466 S.W.2d 1 The modified comparable sales approach described above has been criticized as impractical, Bussa v. Glast......
  • Refusal of State Bd. of Equalization to Hear Appeal of Lake Poinsett Area Development Ass'n, Matter of, Nos. 13803
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • March 2, 1983
    ...of Butte v. South Dakota State Board of Equalization, 263 N.W.2d 140 (S.D.1978); Hot Springs Indep. Dist. v. Fall River Landowners, 262 N.W.2d 33 (S.D.1978). In the companion cases of County of Butte and Hot Springs, the appellants argued that SDCL 10-6-33.1 resulted in a determination of c......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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