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South-Western City School District Board of Education v. Franklin County Board of Revision

Supreme Court of Ohio

November 2, 2017

South-Western City School District Board of Education, Appellant,
v.
Franklin County Board of Revision et al., Appellees.

          Submitted August 29, 2017

         Appeal from the Board of Tax Appeals, No. 2014-2259.

          Rich & Gillis Law Group, L.L.C., Mark H. Gillis, and Richelle L. Thoburn, for appellant.

          Kennedy, J.

         {¶ 1} In this appeal, appellant, Board of Education of the South-Western City School District ("BOE"), challenges a decision of the Board of Tax Appeals ("BTA") affirming the Franklin County Board of Revision's ("BOR's") reduced valuation of a residential property in the amount of $65, 000 for tax year 2011. The BOE argues that the BTA failed in its duty to independently evaluate the evidence to determine the value of the property. We agree and therefore vacate the BTA's decision and remand this matter to the BTA. Because this proposition of law is dispositive, we do not address the BOE's additional proposition of law.

         Factual Background

         {¶ 2} The property at issue is a two-story residential property located in Columbus, Ohio. The Franklin County auditor assigned a true value of $113, 300 for tax year 2011. On April 2, 2012, the owner, appellee Nadia Ryumshin, filed a complaint seeking a reduction to $57, 000, contending that home values in the area had declined. The BOE filed a countercomplaint seeking to retain the auditor's valuation.

         {¶ 3} Ryumshin and counsel for the BOE appeared at the BOR hearing. In support of the requested reduction, Ryumshin presented comparable-sales documents that had been supplied by a real-estate agent, who did not appear at the hearing. Counsel for the BOE characterized many of Ryumshin's comparable sales as "HUD sales."

         {¶ 4} Ryumshin's son spoke on her behalf at the hearing due to a language barrier. He indicated that relatives rented the property for $850 per month, which represents the sum of the mortgage, insurance, and tax payments on the property. The BOE did not submit any documentary evidence or present any witnesses.

         {¶ 5} The BOR reduced the property's value to $65, 000. In determining this value, the BOR did not limit itself to the evidence presented by Ryumshin. Instead, the BOR considered additional evidence it obtained after the hearing that it used to apply sales-comparison and income approaches to the valuation.

         {¶ 6} The BOE appealed to the BTA, which held a hearing on January 7, 2015. Ryumshin, counsel for the BOE, and counsel for the BOR appeared.

         {¶ 7} Christine Holdrieth, the supervisor of the auditor's appraisal department, testified at the hearing. She explained that she had represented the auditor at the BOR hearing and had performed the bulk of the analysis for the BOR's sales-comparison and income approaches to the valuation.

         {¶ 8} For the sales-comparison approach, Holdrieth explained that the BOR reviewed Ryumshin's comparable-sales documents prior to the hearing and then obtained and reviewed additional comparable sales after the hearing. Holdrieth stated that Ryumshin's comparable sales were questionable because they "were all low sales, " and she explained that a broader spectrum of sales that better resembled the property therefore needed to be considered. The BOR neither shared the additional comparables with the parties nor included them in the record transmitted to the BTA because they were viewed electronically and not in paper form.

         {¶ 9} For the income approach, Holdrieth explained that the process is a "simple mathematical]" exercise that involves multiplying the rental rate by the gross rent multiplier ("GRM"). The GRM data, which contains information pertaining to neighborhood-area rents and sales, is provided to the auditor's office by a contract appraisal company. The record transmitted to the BTA did not contain the GRM data. The BOE later obtained a ...


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