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.
ON APPEAL FROM A FINAL DETERMINATION OF THE INDIANA
BOARD OF TAX REVIEW
Blesich challenges the final determination of the Indiana
Board of Tax Review that valued his real property at $300,000
for the 2007 through 2010 tax years. Upon review, the Court
affirms the Indiana Board's final determination.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
owns a single-family dwelling located in St. John, Indiana.
During the years at issue, the Lake County Property Tax
Assessment Board of Appeals (PTABOA) assigned Blesich's
property the following assessed values: $320,000 for 2007,
$320,000 for 2008, $300,900 for 2009, and $320,000 for 2010.
(See Cert. Admin. R. at 4, 12, 21, 28.) Believing these
values to be too high, Blesich filed four appeals with the
Indiana Board on May 31, 2010.
Indiana Board conducted a consolidated hearing on the appeals
on June 9, 2014. During the hearing, the Indiana Board's
administrative law judge determined that because the
PTABOA's 2007 assessment represented an increase of more
than 5% from the previous year's final assessed value of
$300,000, the Lake County Assessor bore the burden of proving
under Indiana Code § 6-1.1-15-17.2 that the assessment
was correct. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 92-93.) The
administrative law judge also indicated that the party who
would bear the burden of proof in each of the remaining years
at issue would be contingent upon the party who prevailed on
the preceding year's assessment challenge; as a result,
she recommended that each party make its best case for each
year. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 92-93.)
end, both the Assessor and Blesich presented evidence in
support of their positions. Specifically, the Assessor
presented data relating to four properties that sold in
Blesich's neighborhood in 2006. (See Cert. Admin. R. at
82-86, 99-100.) The Assessor claimed that given the average
sales price per square foot for these four properties,
Blesich's 2007 assessment
should be reduced to $311,000. (See Cert. Admin. R. at
82, 99-100.) Blesich, on the other hand, presented an
appraisal report that valued his property at $275,000 as of
March 9, 2012. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 60-77, 123.) Blesich
also presented evidence to show the sales prices per square
foot of three properties on his street, which he argued were
more comparable to his property than the properties that were
offered by the Assessor. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 59, 78,
103-04.) Blesich maintained that this evidence demonstrated
that his property should have been assessed at $270,000 for
2007, $248,500 for 2008, $257,000 for 2009, and $260,000 for
2010. (See, e.g., Cert. Admin. R. at 2, 10, 19, 26, 107.)
September 4, 2014, the Indiana Board issued a final
determination in the matter. In that final determination, the
Indiana Board held that while the Assessor bore the burden of
proving that the assessed values were correct for all four of
the years at issue, she failed to satisfy that burden because
she failed to demonstrate how the properties in her sales
data were comparable to Blesich's property. (See Cert.
Admin. R. at 47-50 ¶ ¶ 16, 17(c), 18(a)-(d).) The
Indiana Board then explained that while Blesich had an
opportunity under Indiana Code § 6-1.1-15-17.2 to
present evidence to show what the proper assessments should
have been, his evidentiary presentation suffered from the
same infirmity as the Assessor's: in presenting his sales
data, he too failed to demonstrate how the properties were
comparable to his. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 47-49 ¶
¶ 15, 17(f).) Moreover, the Indiana Board explained that
Blesich's appraisal carried no weight because it was
dated March 9, 2012, which was too far removed from any of
the valuation dates at issue. (See Cert. Admin. R. at 49
¶ 17(g).) Accordingly, the Indiana Board ordered
Blesich's 2007 through 2010 assessments to revert to the
property's 2006 assessed value of $300,000. (Cert. Admin.
R. at 47 ¶ 15, 50 ¶ 19 (both referring to Ind. Code
§ 6-1.1-15-17.2(b) (2014) (explaining that when neither
party's evidence proves what the correct assessment
should be, the assessed value reverts to the previous
year's final assessed value)).)
October 8, 2014, Blesich initiated this original tax appeal.
The Court heard oral argument on September 16, 2015.
Additional facts will be supplied as necessary.