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= &n= bsp; &nbs= p; = &n= bsp; ENTRY ORDER
= &n= bsp; &nbs= p; SUPREME COURT DOCKET NO. 2003-469
= &n= bsp; &nbs= p; = &n= bsp; APRIL TERM, 2005
Green Mountain Village Owners Association } APPEALED FROM:
v. = &n= bsp; &nbs= p; = &n= bsp; } Pro= perty Valuation and Review Division
Town of Hubbardton &nbs= p; = &n= bsp; &nbs= p; }
} DOCKET NO. PVR 2001-17=
= &n= bsp; &nbs= p; In the above-entitled cause, the Clerk will enter:
Taxpayer appeals the state appraiser’s decision upholding the Town of Hubbardton’s assessment of taxpayer’s property. We reverse the decision and reman= d the matter for the state appraiser to reconsider whether the property is accur= ately assessed based on its fair market value.
The subject property is a twenty-six-acre parcel of land underlying and adjoin= ing more than a dozen associated, individually-owned residences. Before the town-wide reappraisal = in 2001, the property was assessed at $1500.= Following the reappraisal, the Town listed the property at $58,600, nearly forty times its previous assessed value. Taxpayer aggrieved the assessment= , which was reduced first to $48,500 by the town listers and then to $35,500 by the town board of civil authority. Following a de novo hearing, the state appraiser upheld the board’s appraisal, concluding that taxpayer had failed to meet its b= urden of producing evidence to overcome the presumption of validity given to the Town’s assessment. On = appeal, taxpayer argues that (1) the state appraiser erred by ruling that it had f= ailed to overcome the presumed validity of the Town’s assessment; (2) ther= e is no basis for finding that the fair market value of the property is $35,500= ; and (3) the state appraiser abused its discretion by restricting taxpayer̵= 7;s efforts to challenge the Town’s method and basis of appraisal.
appraised value set by the town board of civil authority is presumed to be
valid, and thus the taxpayer=
initial burden of producing credible evidence to overcome that presumption=
. Wilde v. Town of Norwich, =
327, 329 (1989). “Any
admissible evidence can rebut the presumption, whatever we may ultimately =
of the evidence’s weight.”&nb=
Woolen Mill Assocs. v. City of Winooski, 162 Vt. 461, 463 (1=
(“Our precedents are clear that we are unwilling to engage in debates
about the quality of evidence in determining whether the presumption of
validity is overcome.”).
Generally, the presumption of validity “is overcome when
‘credible evidence’ is introduced ‘fairly and
reasonably’ indicating that the property was assessed at more than t=
fair market value or that the listed value exceeded the percentage of fair
market value applied generally to property within the community.”
“Once the taxpayer introduces evidence to rebut the presumption, the burden of production shifts to the Town to support the appraisal either by showing t= hat the appraisal method complies substantially with the law or through indepe= ndent evidence of the value of the property.” Wilde, 152 Vt. at 329; acc= ord Leroux v. Town of Wheelock, 136 Vt. 396, 398 (1978). “The taxpayer, however, ret= ains the overall burden of persuasion.”&= nbsp; Wilde, 152 Vt. at 329.
Here, the state appraiser erred in concluding that taxpayer had failed to meet i= ts initial burden of producing evidence to overcome the validity of the Town’s appraisal concerning the subject property. A representative of taxpayer test= ified in some detail as to the considerable limitations on the property’s use. According to him, the p= roperty essentially is a common area for associated, individually-owned residences= , and is used, among other things, to serve the residences’ sewage and wat= er systems. He opined that the property could not be developed further because of these encumbrances and = other circumstances, and thus had only a nominal value of $2000, which was still= a twenty-five percent increase over the assessed value before the town-wide reappraisal. The state appra= iser found that the highest and best use of the property was continuing its cur= rent use. Under these circumstanc= es, taxpayer’s evidence was sufficient to rebut the presumed validity of= an appraisal that increased the property’s assessment by more than twenty-fold from its previous assessment without seeming to take into acco= unt the encumbrances cited by taxpayer. The evidence provided credible support for taxpayer’s claim t= hat this unique property was appraised in excess of its fair market value.
Having so concluded, we decline taxpayer’s request to reweigh the evidence = ourselves and direct the Town to assess the property at $2000. Rather, we remand the matter for = the state appraiser to disregard the presumptive validity of the Town’s assessment, to give taxpayer an opportunity to challenge the Town’s = basis for its appraisal, to weigh the evidence presented by the Town and taxpaye= r, and to determine the fair market value of the subject property. The state appraiser has already concluded that, because the Town’s overall assessment ratio for 2001= is above one hundred percent, the fair market price will be the assessed valu= e.
The decision of the state appraiser is reversed, and the matter is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this entry order.
BY THE COURT:
John A. Dooley, Associate Justice
Denise R. Johnson, Associate Justice
Frederic W. Allen, Chief Justice (Ret.),