Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Dekalb County Board of Tax Assessors v. CWS SGARR Brookhaven, LLC

Court of Appeals of Georgia, Third Division

October 30, 2019

DEKALB COUNTY BOARD OF TAX ASSESSORS
v.
CWS SGARR BROOKHAVEN, LLC. DEKALB COUNTY BOARD OF TAX ASESSORS
v.
WRH AZTEC, LLLP.

          DILLARD, P. J., GOBEIL and HODGES, JJ.

          Gobeil, Judge.

         In these appeals, which we have consolidated, the DeKalb County Board of Tax Assessors (the "Board") challenges the Superior Court of DeKalb County's grant of the taxpayers' respective motions for summary judgment. The Board contends that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the taxpayers because a statutory exception allowed the Board to reassess the properties in question based on a significant increase in the sales price of similar properties in the same neighborhood. The Board further asserts that the trial court's interpretation of the statutory exception at issue will force the Board to violate constitutional and legislative mandates requiring that all comparable properties be assessed uniformly, accurately, and at fair market value. For reasons explained more fully below, we find no error and affirm in both cases.

         Summary judgment is appropriate when no genuine issues of material fact remain and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. OCGA § 9-11-56 (c). We review a trial court's grant of summary judgment de novo, construing the record and all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Smith v. Found, 343 Ga.App. 816, 817 (806 S.E.2d 287) (2017).

         A19A1541

         The facts relevant to these appeals are undisputed and, in Case No. A19A1541, show that CWS owns a garden-style apartment complex[1] known as The Marq at Brookhaven. CWS's property is located in neighborhood 7051 of DeKalb County, was constructed in 1998, and consists of 480 "Class B" apartments.[2] For the 2016 tax year, the Board assessed the property at a value of $57, 903, 500. CWS appealed that assessment to the DeKalb County Board of Equalization ("BOE"). The BOE affirmed the Board's assessment and set the property's value at $57, 903, 500. CWS did not appeal the BOE's decision to the superior court, and it paid taxes on the assessed value.

         In 2017, the Board conducted an analysis of the Class B apartment complexes that sold in neighborhood 7051 during the 2016 calendar year. According to the Board, that analysis showed that other properties of the same type and class as CWS's property "had experienced a significant increase in the median sales price since January 1, 2016, as compared to earlier years." Based on the 2016 sales analysis, the Board concluded that the CWS's property had been undervalued.[3]

         As part of the revaluation process, the Board sent a commercial property appraiser to conduct a site visit of the property. Following that visit, the appraiser recommended a significant increase in the property's assessed value based on "an occurrence of other material factors substantially affecting the [fair market value] within the property's market area including but not limited to . . . market conditions." Accordingly, for the 2017 tax year, the Board assessed the property at $69, 573, 371. CWS appealed that assessment, and the BOE affirmed the Board's valuation. CWS then appealed that decision to the superior court.

         A19A1618

         Similarly, the record in Case No. A19A1618 shows that Aztec owns four parcels of commercial real estate property in DeKalb County, totaling approximately 21.4 acres. An apartment complex, known as the Hidden Colony Apartments, and designated Class B by the Board, is situated on the property. In 2015, the Board valued the subject property at $8, 503, 560. Aztec appealed the Board's assessment in accordance with OCGA § 48-5-311, and, after a hearing before the BOE, a final fair market combined value of $7, 620, 948 was established for the property for tax year 2015. Aztec did not appeal this valuation to the superior court.

         In May 2016, an appraiser from the DeKalb County Property Appraisal Department conducted a site visit to the subject property, and recommended an increase in the valuation based on market conditions. The analysis described that the 2015 valuation was not valued uniformly with other Class B apartments in the same neighborhood, or in neighborhoods near the subject property. Based on this information, the Board assessed the subject property at $22, 339, 565 for tax year 2016, an increase of 166% over the 2015 valuation. Aztec appealed this valuation to the BOE, which decreased the value to $20, 339, 480. Aztec then appealed this valuation to the Superior Court of DeKalb County.

         In each case, the taxpayer moved for summary judgment, contending that the two-year freeze provided for in OCGA § 48-5-299 (c) precluded the Board from increasing the value established by the BOE appeal. In response, the Board argued that OCGA § 48-5-299 (c) permitted revaluation because the subject properties' values increased based upon a subsequent significant increase in sales prices of similar, comparable properties. The trial court granted the taxpayers' respective motions for summary judgment, ruling that the Board's stated basis for increasing the properties' valuations-changes in comparable sales-cannot, as a matter of law, constitute a "material factor" as contemplated by OCGA § 48-5-299 (c) (4).

         1. The Board contends that the trial court erred in concluding that under OCGA § 48-5-299 (c) (4), a significant increase in sales of comparable properties could not constitute a "material factor[] that substantially affect[s] the current fair market value" of the property. OCGA § 48-5-299; see also Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 560-11-10-.09 (2) (c) (2). In support of this contention, the Board argues that the plain language of OCGA § 48-5-299 (c) (4) indicates that evidence of significantly increased sales prices of like properties can, as a matter of law, constitute a material factor authorizing a reassessment within two years of a judicial determination of valuation. According to the Board, because the statute is clear and unambiguous, and the plain language of the statute does not exclude "market conditions" as a material factor affecting the current fair market value of property, we should not read any such limitation into the statute.

         Where, as here, we are called upon to interpret a statute, we "presume that the General Assembly meant what it said and said what it meant." Deal v. Coleman, 294 Ga. 170, 172 (1) (a) (751 S.E.2d 337) (2013) (citation omitted). To that end, we "afford the statutory text its plain and ordinary meaning," and we "read the text in its most natural and reasonable way, as an ordinary speaker of the English language would." Id. at 172-173 (1) (citations and punctuation omitted).

The common and customary usage of the words are important, but so is their context, which includes not only the statutes other provisions, but also the constitutional, statutory, and common law that forms the legal ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.