Court of Appeals sides with St. Louis County Assessor in assessment dispute

By Sam Knef | May 15, 2018

KANSAS CITY – The Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District has affirmed a ruling in favor of the St. Louis County Assessor in a dispute with the owners of 95 properties who challenged assessments in an "even" year.

The appeals panel agreed with Cole County Circuit Court Judge Patricia S. Joyce, who held that rulings from the County Board of Commissioners in odd-numbered years control the following even-year assessments unless there are new construction or property improvements.

According to background information in the April 10 ruling, taxpayers Amoso Blanc, et al. had appealed Joyce's ruling after their protracted dispute with the State Tax Commission and the office of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization. In 2013, the appellants appealed the county assessor's values of all 95 properties, with the values of six properties settled with the assessor before a decision by the county board was announced. The board issued decisions regarding the other 89 properties, but the appellants did not appeal the county board's 2013 decisions to the state commission.

However, in 2014 Amoso Blanc, et al. appealed the assessed values of all properties, including the six that were settled with the assessor. The values in 2014 were the same as determined in 2013, including the six settlements, the ruling indicates.

Joyce ultimately entered a permanent writ prohibiting the state commission from exercising jurisdiction over the Amoso Blanc case, finding that "clear reading" of statute indicates that decisions rendered in odd-numbered years by the County Board or the Commission control even-year assessments absent new construction of property improvements.

The panel of judges included Chief Judge Mark D. Pfeiffer, as well as Cynthia L. Martin and James E. Welsh.

"Though we agree that assessor could have appealed any adverse commission decision, and though the availability of a remedy on appeal can be a basis for denying a discretionary writ of prohibition, the availability of a remedy on appeal does not preclude a trial court from exercising its discretion to grant a permanent writ of prohibition," Martin wrote.  

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