Refusal of State Bd. of Equalization to Hear Appeal of Lake Poinsett Area Development Ass'n, Matter of, Nos. 13803

CourtSouth Dakota Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHALL; HALL, Circuit Judge, sitting for FOSHEIM
Citation330 N.W.2d 754
PartiesIn the Matter of the Appeal From the REFUSAL OF the STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION TO HEAR the APPEAL OF the LAKE POINSETT AREA DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION.
Decision Date02 March 1983
Docket NumberNos. 13803,13807 and 13814

Page 754

330 N.W.2d 754
In the Matter of the Appeal From the REFUSAL OF the STATE
BOARD OF EQUALIZATION TO HEAR the APPEAL OF the
LAKE POINSETT AREA DEVELOPMENT
ASSOCIATION.
Nos. 13803, 13807 and 13814.
Supreme Court of South Dakota.
Argued Nov. 17, 1982.
Decided March 2, 1983.

Page 755

Robert Arneson, Hamlin County State's Atty., Hayti, and Irving A. Hinderaker of Austin, Hinderaker & Hackett, Watertown, for appellant Hamlin County Bd. of Equalization.

John Dewell, Asst. Atty. Gen., Pierre, for appellant Secretary of Revenue; Mark V. Meierhenry, Atty. Gen., Pierre, on brief.

George S. Mickelson of McCann, Martin & Mickelson, P.C., Brookings, for appellees Lake Owners; Richard J. Helsper of McCann, Martin & Mickelson, P.C., Brookings, on brief.

HALL, Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal concerning a dispute over the calculation of the assessed valuation and the taxable percentage imposed upon two classes of property, agricultural and nonagricultural, in Hamlin County, South Dakota for 1981. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

Lake owners (appellees) are 327 individuals who own 276 parcels of real estate adjacent to Lake Poinsett in Hamlin County. Part of the real estate is located in Norden Township and the balance is located in Estelline Township.

Lake owners filed timely written objections to the real property assessment with the Norden Township Board and the Estelline Township Board, sitting in their capacities as boards of equalization. On April 14, 1981, the Norden Township Board transferred the objections to the Hamlin County Board of Equalization. On April 15, 1981, the Estelline Township Board disapproved lake owners' objections.

On May 8, 1981, lake owners appeared before the Hamlin County Board of Equalization and presented the objections to the real property assessment for property in both Norden and Estelline Townships. On May 19, 1981, the Hamlin County Board of Equalization raised the assessed valuation of agricultural land by 30 percent and lowered the assessed valuation of Lake Poinsett lots by 10 percent. The Hamlin County Board of Equalization also established the taxable percentage of assessed valuation for agricultural property at 35 percent and for nonagricultural property at 39 percent.

On June 8, 1981, lake owners filed a complaint and petition for alternative writ of mandamus in circuit court requesting a writ requiring the Hamlin County Board of Commissioners, et al. (appellants) (1) to reassess all agricultural classified property within Hamlin County to the same percentage of full and true value as nonagricultural property for the 1981 assessment and (2) to set one equal percentage for the taxable year, 1981, for all classes of property within Hamlin County.

On the day following the commencement of the mandamus action, the lake owners filed an equalization appeal from the action of the Hamlin County Board of Commissioners with the State Board of Equalization. The State Board declined to hear the appeal by reason of the pendency of the mandamus action in circuit court. The lake owners then appealed from the action of the State Board to the circuit court.

The county board moved to dismiss the mandamus action. On September 14, 1981, the circuit court entered an order dismissing the lake owners' first cause of action.

Pursuant to stipulation of the parties, trial of the remaining issues in the mandamus action and in the appeal from the action of the State Board of Equalization was had on September 23, 1981. This is an appeal by the Hamlin County Board of Commissioners et al. (Commissioners) as defendants in the lower court and the Secretary of Revenue, as intervenor, from that trial de novo proceeding. The circuit court found that certain actions of the county director of equalization were improper and resulted in a disproportionate assessment of the lake owners' property. The court further determined that the action of the Hamlin County Board of Equalization in fixing more than one taxable percentage

Page 756

for property within the county for tax purposes was not permissible and that the lake owners were paying a disproportionate share of the tax burden in Hamlin County.

The first issue we must address is whether the lake owners are proper parties to this action and whether the circuit court had jurisdiction to hear their equalization appeal. The circuit court held in the affirmative, and we affirm.

Commissioners argue that the lake owners are not "persons aggrieved" within the meaning of SDCL 10-11-42 and, therefore, the circuit court was without jurisdiction to hear their appeal or enter judgment in their favor. SDCL 10-11-42 provides the remedy to appeal from the county board of equalization's decision to "[a]ny person, firm or corporation, public or private, feeling aggrieved by the action of the county board of equalization relative to the assessment of its property...." Commissioners argue that this court has held, in construing the predecessor to SDCL 10-11-42, that a court does not have jurisdiction to hear an appeal to correct the valuation of property of one other than the complainant. In re Ericksen, 69 S.D. 446, 11 N.W.2d 141 (1943) (appeal dismissed, 322 U.S. 712, 64 S.Ct. 1269, 88 L.Ed. 1554 (1944)); Beveridge v. Baer, 59 S.D. 563, 241 N.W. 727 (1932). In Ericksen, the complainant objected to the assessment of property belonging to another. He did not maintain that his property was assessed too high, but only that the other property was assessed too low. This court held that the circuit court was without jurisdiction to entertain the purported appeal.

Lake property owners have not attempted to increase agricultural assessments nor requested that the taxable percentage on agricultural property be increased. The lake owners have only sought to be treated equally with the agricultural property owners.

Therefore, we are of the opinion that the lake owners are not attempting to appeal the assessment of the property of another. Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the circuit court that the lake owners are "persons aggrieved" within the meaning of SDCL 10-11-42 and that the circuit court did have jurisdiction to hear their equalization appeal.

The next issue we must consider is whether appellees are entitled to relief by way of a writ of mandamus compelling appellants to comply with statutory directives regarding property taxation. The circuit court held in the negative, and we affirm.

Appellees petitioned this court for review of this issue. They argue that a writ of mandamus should issue to compel the county tax assessor to assess agricultural property at its true and full value.

Mandamus is not a proper remedy in this case because appellees seek to direct the exercise of judgment or discretion in a particular way on the part of the county tax assessor and because there is a plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.

Mandamus is employed to compel the performance, when refused, of a ministerial duty, this being its chief use. It is also employed to compel action, when refused, in matters involving judgment and discretion, but not to direct the exercise of judgment or discretion in a particular way nor to direct the retraction or reversal of action already taken in the exercise of either.

Midwest Oil Company v. Youngquist, 69 S.D. 461, 463, 11 N.W.2d 662, 663 (1943) (quoting Wilbur v. United States ex rel. Kadrie, 281 U.S. 206, 50 S.Ct. 320, 324, 74 L.Ed. 809 (1930)). Accord Breckweg v. Knochenmus and May, 81 S.D. 244, 133 N.W.2d 860 (1965); State ex rel. Cook v. Richards, 61 S.D. 28, 245 N.W. 901 (1932); First Nat. Bank v. Hirning, 48 S.D. 417, 204 N.W. 901 (1925); Farmers' Loan & Trust Bank v. Hirning, 42 S.D. 52, 172 N.W. 931 (1919); Stephens et al. v. Jones et al., 24 S.D. 97, 123 N.W. 705 (1909). This court addressed a similar issue involving property tax officers in Beadle County v. Eveland, 43 S.D. 447, 180 N.W. 65 (1920). In that case, the plaintiffs initiated an action seeking a

Page 757

peremptory writ of mandamus commanding the state tax commission to order a reassessment of real property in the City of Huron. The plaintiffs alleged that the city had arbitrarily increased the valuation of certain property situated in the Huron business district, thereby discriminating against the owners of that property. The court was presented with conflicting evidence upon the question of whether the assessed valuation as equalized of the two classes of property were disproportionate when compared with their true values. The court found there was not such a discrepancy as to indicate an intentional noncompliance with rules governing assessment of property. The evidence tended in no manner to establish any willful intent on the part of the Equalization Board of the City of Huron to arbitrarily disregard the law in making the equalization. Therefore, the court held the tax officers had discretion in valuing the property and that it was beyond the power of the court to command defendants to order a reassessment of the property in any case wherein the statute gives them a discretion.

As in Eveland, there is no intentional noncompliance in the case at bar. The record supports Commissioners' position that they have attempted to comply with statutory directives regarding property taxation through their agricultural land productivity analysis and through the use of assigned values provided by the Department of Revenue. Consequently, the Hamlin County tax officers have acted, and thus mandamus is not a proper remedy to direct the exercise of judgment or discretion in a particular way.

Mandamus also is not a proper remedy because there is a plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. SDCL Chapter 10-11 clearly establishes a system of appeal of assessment decisions. SDCL 10-11-42 authorizes appeal from a decision of the county board of equalization to the State Board of Equalization and SDCL 10-11-44...

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7 practice notes
  • Burlington Northern R. Co. v. Green, No. 21604-21606
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • April 18, 2001
    ...constitutional demand for uniformity applies within a class, and not between classes of property. In re Refusal of State Bd. of Equal., 330 N.W.2d 754, 758 (S.D. 1983). SDCL chapter 10-28 evidences a legislative intent to classify railroad operating property as a separate class. Manke compl......
  • Butte County, Matter of, No. 14553
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • April 2, 1986
    ...land were similar to assessment procedures previously approved by this Court. See Matter of Refusal of State Board of Equalization, 330 N.W.2d 754 (S.D.1983); Mortenson v. Stanley County, 303 N.W.2d 107 (S.D.1981); and Knodel v. Board of County Comm'rs, 269 N.W.2d 386 (S.D.1978). In 1981, h......
  • Appeal of Lawrence County, Nos. 17802
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • May 12, 1993
    ...Equalization, 433 N.W.2d 555, 560 (S.D.1988); In re Refusal of State Bd. of Equalization to Hear Appeal of Lake Poinsett Area Dev. Ass'n, 330 N.W.2d 754, 756 (S.D.1983); In re Ericksen, 69 S.D. 446, 451, 11 N.W.2d 141, 143 (1943) (appeal dismissed, 322 U.S. 712, 64 S.Ct. 1269, 88 L.Ed. 1554......
  • Codington County Bd. of Com'rs v. State, Bd. of Equalization, No. 15960
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • December 14, 1988
    ...art. VIII, Sec. 15, is set out in In re Appeal from Refusal of State Bd. of Equalization to Hear Appeal of Lake Poinsett Area Dev. Ass'n, 330 N.W.2d 754, 758 (S.D.1983), wherein this Court held that "the South Dakota Constitution does not require uniformity of taxation between classes of pr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • Burlington Northern R. Co. v. Green, No. 21604-21606
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • April 18, 2001
    ...constitutional demand for uniformity applies within a class, and not between classes of property. In re Refusal of State Bd. of Equal., 330 N.W.2d 754, 758 (S.D. 1983). SDCL chapter 10-28 evidences a legislative intent to classify railroad operating property as a separate class. Manke compl......
  • Butte County, Matter of, No. 14553
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • April 2, 1986
    ...land were similar to assessment procedures previously approved by this Court. See Matter of Refusal of State Board of Equalization, 330 N.W.2d 754 (S.D.1983); Mortenson v. Stanley County, 303 N.W.2d 107 (S.D.1981); and Knodel v. Board of County Comm'rs, 269 N.W.2d 386 (S.D.1978). In 1981, h......
  • Appeal of Lawrence County, Nos. 17802
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • May 12, 1993
    ...Equalization, 433 N.W.2d 555, 560 (S.D.1988); In re Refusal of State Bd. of Equalization to Hear Appeal of Lake Poinsett Area Dev. Ass'n, 330 N.W.2d 754, 756 (S.D.1983); In re Ericksen, 69 S.D. 446, 451, 11 N.W.2d 141, 143 (1943) (appeal dismissed, 322 U.S. 712, 64 S.Ct. 1269, 88 L.Ed. 1554......
  • Codington County Bd. of Com'rs v. State, Bd. of Equalization, No. 15960
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • December 14, 1988
    ...art. VIII, Sec. 15, is set out in In re Appeal from Refusal of State Bd. of Equalization to Hear Appeal of Lake Poinsett Area Dev. Ass'n, 330 N.W.2d 754, 758 (S.D.1983), wherein this Court held that "the South Dakota Constitution does not require uniformity of taxation between classes of pr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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