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Angelo v. New Castle County Board of Assessment Review

Superior Court of Delaware

December 11, 2017

RONALD ANGELO SR., Appellant,
v.
NEW CASTLE COUNTY BOARD OF ASSESSMENT REVIEW and NEW CASTLE COUNTY OFFICE OF FINANCE, ASSESSMENT DIVISION, Appellees.

          Date Submitted: September 20, 2017

         On Appeal from the New Castle County Board of Assessment Review

          Vivian L. Medinilla Judge.

         This is an appeal from the New Castle County Board of Assessment Review ("Board"). Appellant Ronald Angelo Sr. ("Appellant") appeals the Board's May 12, 2017 decision to deny his appeal of his property tax assessment. Upon consideration of the facts, arguments, and legal authority set forth by the parties; statutory and decisional law; and the entire record in this case, the Court hereby finds as follows:

         1. Rosemary Angelo ("Mrs. Angelo") purchased 611 Southerness Drive, Townsend, Delaware 19734 (the "Property") in August 2007.[1]

         2. The New Castle County Office of Finance, Assessment Division ("Assessment Division") assessed the Property at $98, 900; the land at $10, 900 and the structure at $88, 000.

         3. On April 11, 2016, Appellant filed a Residential Assessment Appeal to the Board challenging that the Property should be assessed at $30, 000. The appellate process requires that the property owner show substantial overvaluation as to fair market value as of July 1, 1983, the applicable base year.

         4. Appellant did not identify any appraisal or comparable sales to support his positions. Instead, Appellant attached a list of fifteen complaints or alleged violations, including violations of the New Castle County Code, the Delaware Code, and the Fair Housing Act.[2] He also attached an email chain concerning a FOIA request and an Americans with Disabilities Act Discrimination Complaint Form. In sum, Appellant argued that he could not be taxed as assessed because both the deed and the assessment process were invalid.

         5. On April 15, 2016, the New Castle County Office of Finance, Assessment Division sent Appellant a letter concerning the deficiencies in his appeal. The letter asked for Appellant to provide comparable sales and Appellant's estimate of the Property's July 1, 1983 fair market value. Appellant failed to provide any information concerning comparable sales.

         6. A Board hearing was held on April 20, 2017. Appellant provided no evidence concerning the fair market value of the Property as of July 1, 1983. Although Appellant requested the Property be assessed at $30, 000, he testified that the Property actually had no value due to issues with the deed, structural issues, and multiple alleged legal violations previously noted.

         7. Appellees requested the appeal be denied where Appellant provided no competent evidence of substantial overvaluation as to the Property. The Board agreed and voted to deny the appeal ("Board Decision"). In the written decision, the Board noted that although Appellant alleged legal issues related to the deed and Property, no evidence regarding the deed or alleged violations were submitted with the appeal form. The Board's rules clearly state that all evidence must be included with an appellant's appeal form.[3]

         8. Appellant appeals the Board Decision to this Court. Appellant contends that the Board erred by "not allowing] [him] to present any evidence to support [his] Appeal even though the violations were stated in the Appeal to the Assessment board and the evidence was filed with various departments at the County and State level [sic]."[4]

         Standard of Review

         9. Delaware property owners have a substantial evidentiary burden at both the administrative and appellate levels. "Before the Board of Assessment, there is a presumption of accuracy in favor of the existing assessment, which the property owner may only rebut with evidence of 'substantial overvaluation.'"[5] A Board decision is then presumed correct and may only be disturbed if the appellant shows that the Board "acted contrary to law, fraudulently, arbitrarily or capriciously."[6] The Court's review is limited. The Court "does not weigh the evidence, determine questions of credibility, or make its own factual findings."[7] The Court "is to reverse ... ...


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