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Plains Marketing, LP v. Mountrail County Board of County Commissioners

Supreme Court of North Dakota

May 26, 2016

Plains Marketing, LP and Van Hook Crude Terminal, LLC, Appellants
v.
Mountrail County Board of County Commissioners, Appellee

          Appeal from the District Court of Mountrail County, North Central Judicial District, the Honorable Douglas L. Mattson, Judge.

         Michael W. Green (argued) and Daniel W. Barker (appeared), Helena, MT, for appellants.

         Wade G. Enget, Stanley, N.D., for appellee.

         Carol Ronning Kapsner, Lisa Fair McEvers, Daniel J. Crothers, Dale V. Sandstrom, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J.

          OPINION

Page 76

         Carol Ronning Kapsner, Justice.

          [¶1] Plains Marketing, LP and Van Hook Crude Terminal, LLC, appeal from an order affirming a Mountrail County Board of County Commissioners' decision denying their application for an abatement of 2013 real estate taxes for three parcels of land in Mountrail County. They argue this Court should reverse the County Board's denial of their application for an abatement because the County Board incorrectly applied the omitted property provisions in N.D.C.C. ch. 57-14. We agree and reverse the order.

         I

          [¶2] The issue raised in this appeal involves the 2013 real estate assessments for three parcels of land in Mountrail County owned by Plains Marketing and Van Hook. The Van Hook Crude Terminal is located on one of the parcels and the Manitou LPG Rail Terminal is located on the other two parcels. The terminals are loading facilities used to transfer oil and liquid petroleum gas resources into rail cars. Each parcel was substantially improved between the 2012 and 2013 assessments, and Mountrail County hired Thomas Y. Pickett and Associates to value the improvements for the 2013 tax year. Pickett issued reports valuing the parcels, including the improvements, and the Mountrail County Assessor adopted Pickett's valuations and issued notices of increases in the real estate assessment for each parcel in May 2013. The 2013 assessments increased the assessed valuation for each parcel by three thousand dollars or more and ten percent or more from the 2012 assessed valuation, and Mountrail County concedes it failed to timely notify the property owners of a local board of equalization meeting under N.D.C.C. § 57-12-09, now codified at N.D.C.C. § 57-02-53, before issuing the May 2013 notices of increases to the property owners. See Fisher v. Golden Valley Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs, 226 N.W.2d 636, 647 (N.D. 1975) (holding notice requirement of N.D.C.C. § 57-12-09 is jurisdictional, and if notice is not provided to property owners, any increase in assessed valuation exceeding specified percent of previous assessed valuation is invalid). The property owners appealed the increased valuations to the Mountrail County Board, and the County Board adopted the assessed valuations in the assessor's notices of increases.

          [¶3] The property owners appealed to the State Board of Equalization, claiming the assessments included exempt personal property and they did not receive timely notice of the increases in the assessments under N.D.C.C. § 57-12-09. The State Board ordered a reduction of the 2013 valuations of the three parcels to the 2012 true and full values of the improvements. The State Board's minutes provide:

[Counsel] reviewed the notice of increased assessment with the Board,

Page 77

what constituted proper notice, and what the consequences were if an entity failed to provide proper notice. If an assessor increased the true and full valuation of any lot or tract of land including any improvements thereon by three thousand dollars or more and to ten percent or more than the amount of the last assessment, written notice of the amount of increase must be delivered in writing by the assessor to the property owner, or mailed in writing to the property owner. Delivery of notice to the property owner must be completed not fewer than fifteen days before the meeting of the local equalization board. [Counsel] stated if notice is not received as prescribed by ...

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