APPEAL FROM A FINAL DETERMINATION OF THE INDIANA BOARD OF TAX
BLESICH, PETITIONER, Pro se, St. John, IN.
FOR RESPONDENT: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF
INDIANA; ANDREW T. GREIN, JESSICA R. GASTINEAU, DEPUTY
ATTORNEYS GENERAL, Indianapolis, IN.
Blesich challenges the final determination of the Indiana
Board of Tax Review that valued his real property at $205,000
for the 2010 tax year. While Blesich raises several issues on
appeal, the Court consolidates and restates them as: whether
the Indiana Board's final determination was improper. The
Court affirms the Indiana Board.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
owns residential real property in Schererville, Indiana. In
2010, the St. John Township Assessor assigned that property
an assessed value of $229,300 ($41,700 for land and $187,600
for improvements). The Township Assessor and Blesich
subsequently attempted to reach an agreement regarding the
value of the property, but they could not resolve their
Blesich filed an appeal with the Lake County Property Tax
Assessment Board of Appeals (" PTABOA" ). On April
24, 2013, the PTABOA issued a Notification of Final
Assessment Determination that reduced Blesich's 2010
assessment to $205,000. Still not satisfied, Blesich appealed
to the Indiana Board in May of 2013, electing to litigate his
appeal under the Indiana Board's small claims rules.
9, 2014, the Indiana Board conducted a hearing during which
an Appraisal that valued his property at $181,000 as of
October 1, 2010. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 37-45.) Blesich also
presented a letter, dated April 24, 2012, that documented the
Township Assessor's previous offer to reduce
Blesich's 2010 assessment to $193,700 (hereinafter,
" the Settlement Letter" ). (See Cert. Admin. R.
at 36.) Blesich asserted that the totality of this evidence
established that his 2010 assessment should be either
$181,000 or $193,700. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 80, 90-91.)
response, the Lake County Assessor (" County
Assessor" ) claimed that the Appraisal should be
disregarded, asserting that it was inadmissible hearsay
because the appraiser was not available for cross-examination
and that it lacked probative value because it contained
several " questionable" adjustments. (See Cert.
Admin. R. at 81, 83.) The County Assessor also asserted that
the Settlement Letter was not relevant because, among other
things, it concerned negotiations to which he was not a
party. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 90-91.) Finally, the County
Assessor claimed that the PTABOA's valuation should be
upheld because the sales data for several comparable
properties indicated that the $205,000 valuation was "
more than fair." (See Cert. Admin. R. at 51-57, 82-84.)
October 15, 2014, the Indiana Board issued a final
determination, finding that the Appraisal was admissible
hearsay evidence that was " arguably probative" of
the subject property's value. (See Cert. Admin. R. at
15-16 ¶ ¶ 10-11, 18-19 ¶ 19(b).) Nonetheless,
the Indiana Board explained that the Appraisal could not be
the sole basis for a reduction of Blesich's assessment
because the County Assessor had properly raised the hearsay
objection without exception. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 18-19
¶ 19(b).) The Indiana Board also found that the
Settlement Letter lacked probative value under Indiana law.
(See Cert. Admin. R. at 18-19 ¶ 19(c) (citing
Dep't of Local Gov't Fin. v. Commonwealth Edison
Co. of Ind., 820 N.E.2d 1222, 1227-28 (Ind. 2005)).) The
Indiana Board therefore concluded that Blesich had not made a
prima facie case for any additional reduction to his 2010
assessment. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 19 ¶ 20.)
November 24, 2014, Blesich initiated this original tax
appeal. The Court heard oral argument on September 16, 2015.
Additional facts will be supplied as necessary.
party seeking to overturn an Indiana Board final
determination bears the burden of demonstrating its
invalidity. Osolo Twp. Assessor v. Elkhart Maple Lane
Assocs., 789 N.E.2d 109, 111 (Ind.Tax Ct. 2003). The
Court will reverse a final determination if it is arbitrary,
capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in
accordance with law; contrary to constitutional right, power,
privilege, or immunity; in excess of or short of statutory
jurisdiction, authority, or limitations; without observance