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Howard County Assessor v. Kokomo Mall, LLC

Tax Court of Indiana

August 6, 2014

HOWARD COUNTY ASSESSOR, Petitioner,
v.
KOKOMO MALL, LLC, Respondent

ON APPEAL FROM A FINAL DETERMINATION OF THE INDIANA BOARD OF TAX REVIEW.

ATTORNEY FOR PETITIONER: ALAN D. WILSON, ATTORNEY AT LAW, Kokomo, IN.

ATTORNEYS FOR RESPONDENT: BRENT A. AUBERRY, VICKIE L. NORMAN, BENJAMIN A. BLAIR, FAEGRE BAKER DANIELS LLP, Indianapolis, IN.

OPINION

FISHER, Senior Judge.

The Howard County Assessor has appealed the Indiana Board of Tax Review's final determination that reduced Kokomo Mall, LLC's commercial property assessments

Page 896

for the 2007, 2008, and 2009 tax years.[1] The Court affirms.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The subject property, commonly known as the Kokomo Mall, is situated on three parcels of land along U.S. Highway 31 in Howard County, Indiana. Parcel No. 17 consists of 9.86 acres of land, a JCPenney store, and one other building; Parcel No. 20 consists of 21.15 acres of land, the enclosed, regional shopping mall, and a movie theater; and Parcel No. 22 consists of 1.73 acres of land and a parking lot. The Assessor assessed the property as follows: Parcel No. 20 at $6,979,700 for 2007, all three parcels at $8,230,200 for 2008, and all three parcels at $7,419,500 for 2009.

Believing these assessments were too high, Kokomo Mall appealed, first to the Howard County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals and then to the Indiana Board.[2] At the Indiana Board hearing on February 15, 2011, Kokomo Mall presented a Summary Appraisal Report (Appraisal), completed in conformance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), which valued Parcel No. 20 at $4,960,000 for 2007, all three parcels at $6,080,000 for 2008, and all three parcels at $3,990,000 for 2009. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 190-277.) Kokomo Mall also presented the testimony of Sara Coers, a certified member of the Appraisal Institute (MAI), who prepared the Appraisal.[3] Coers explained that she arrived at these values by adding her income approach valuations for all three parcels (excluding the movie theater) to the corresponding movie theater assessments.[4] (See Cert. Admin. R. at 647-77.) In addition, Coers explained that she corroborated her income approach valuations by comparing the subject property's net operating income (NOI) to the adjusted NOIs of seven Indiana, and two Ohio, enclosed malls. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 252-55, 667-70.)

In response, the Assessor argued that Kokomo Mall's evidence was riddled with errors and therefore unreliable. More specifically, the Assessor claimed that the evidence lacked any probative value whatsoever because Coers

1) blindly relied on the data the property owner provided because she took

Page 897

no steps to verify its accuracy on ...

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