201 ST CHARLES PLACE LLC v. THE LOUISIANA TAX COMMISSION ERROLL WILLIAMS IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS ASSESSOR FOR THE PARISH OF ORLEANS AND NORMAN FOSTER IN HIS CAPACITY AS CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER OF CITY OF NEW ORLEANS DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE AND EX OFFICIO TAX COLLECTOR FOR THE PARISH OF ORLEANS

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Court of Appeal of Louisiana, First Circuit.

201 ST. CHARLES PLACE, LLC v. THE LOUISIANA TAX COMMISSION, ERROLL G. WILLIAMS, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS ASSESSOR FOR THE PARISH OF ORLEANS, AND NORMAN FOSTER, IN HIS CAPACITY AS CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER OF CITY OF NEW ORLEANS DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE AND EX-OFFICIO TAX COLLECTOR FOR THE PARISH OF ORLEANS

2016 CA 0510

Decided: February 17, 2017

BEFORE: WELCH, CRAIN, AND HOLDRIDGE, JJ. Vincent J. Booth, New Orleans, LA, Attorney for Plaintiff/Appellant 201 St. Charles Place, LLC John J. Weiler, Christian N. Weiler, New Orleans, LA, Attorneys for Defendants/Appellees Louisiana Tax Commission, Erroll G. Williams in his Capacity as Assessor of Orleans Parish Kimberly K. Smith, New Orleans, LA, Attorney for Defendant/Appellee Norman Foster in his Capacity as Chief Financial Officer of City of New Orleans Department of Finance

The plaintiff, 201 St. Charles Place, LLC, appeals a district court judgment that affirmed the fair market value the Louisiana Tax Commission (Commission) assigned to its property for ad valorem taxation and that dismissed its petition for judicial review. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff's property is a 52-story Class “A” office building located at 201 St. Charles Avenue in the Central Business District of New Orleans. Errol G. Williams, the Orleans Parish assessor, notified plaintiff that he proposed to appraise its property at $163,811,820 for ad valorem taxes for the 2013 tax year. After further consideration, the assessor determined that his initial value was too high and re-valued the property at $87,474,600, the sum of the land valued at $2,425,500 and improvements valued at $85,049,100. Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Orleans Parish Board of Review to challenge that part of the valuation for the improvements; plaintiff did not dispute the $2,425,500 land valuation. The Board concurred with the assessor and determined that the total fair market value of the property was $87,474,600, with the improvements valued at $85,049,100.

Plaintiff appealed to the Commission, which held a hearing. Assessor Williams testified that the initial $163,811,820 appraisal of plaintiff's property, which he rejected, was based on a cost-based system used by a firm his office employed. Assessor Williams allegedly was not provided with the necessary information to perform an income-based appraisal, so he derived the $87,474,600 value of plaintiff's property by adding the outstanding building permits (where he had that data) to the existing valuations for the properties.1 He then multiplied that sum by 17%, which represented a 3.2% increase each year for five years, which was the period that had passed since the last re-appraisal. The 3.2% figure was the average of what Assessor Williams and his office thought the cost of living index was during that period or what the GNP or gross national product was.2

At the hearing, plaintiff presented the testimony of James P. McNamara,3 a real estate professional; Bennett Davis, plaintiff's leasing director and a broker for Corporate Realty; and introduced other documentary evidence. Mr. McNamara prepared a list of fourteen properties with Class “A” office buildings (including plaintiff's) in the Central Business District, setting forth their assessed values based on the square footage of the land and improvements and the 2012 and 2013 assessments.4 Mr. McNamara then divided the square footage of these properties into the tax assessment to obtain a per square foot assessment value. Mr. McNamara then calculated the average square foot assessed value for the buildings on the list. According to Mr. McNamara, plaintiff's assessment should have been based on the above-described average square foot assessment value, which would yield a fair market value of $55,267,258 (based on an improvements valuation of $52,841,758). In other words, Mr. McNamara was advocating the application of an established average square foot assessment value for all Class “A” buildings.

The report of James K. Wadick, III, MAI,5 who performed an appraisal for plaintiff, was submitted into evidence. Mr. Wadick concluded that the fair market value of plaintiff's property was $80,000,000 using an income-based approach. The Commission presented Albert Thom's appraisal report through the testimony of Charles Dickey, its Appraisal Division supervisor for the southern part of Louisiana, including Orleans Parish.6 Mr. Thom appraised the property at $82,000,000 with the improvements valued at $79,574,500. As with Mr. Wadick's appraisal, plaintiff provided summary income and expense data for Mr. Thom's appraisal and the income capitalization was applied based on reported historical financial data.

After the hearing, the Commission determined that the total fair market value of the property was $80,000,000, based on an improvement valuation of $77,574,000, apparently relying on Mr. Wadick's appraisal that plaintiff submitted.7 However, plaintiff was still dissatisfied and filed a petition for judicial review with the district court to appeal the Commission's decision and to obtain a refund of the disputed amount of the 2013 ad valorem property taxes it paid under protest.8 Plaintiff alleged that the assessor's valuation system did not comply with statutory requirements and was arbitrary and capricious and not uniform, in violation of the Louisiana Constitution, Article VII, § 18, and plaintiff's equal protection rights. Plaintiff contended that a fair and uniform valuation of its property could be established by averaging the values per square foot of all Class “A” office buildings, as Mr. McNamara had done, which would yield a total fair market value of $55,267,258. In Assessor Williams' answer to plaintiff's petition, he filed a cross-appeal of the Commission's improvements valuation.

The district court found that the Commission's decision was not arbitrary or capricious or characterized by an abuse of discretion. The court found that the Commission's valuation was supported by a preponderance of the evidence. The court affirmed the Commission's decision, dismissed the petition for judicial review with prejudice, and dismissed Assessor Williams' cross-appeal and petition for judicial review with prejudice. From this judgment, plaintiff appeals.

On appeal, plaintiff raises two assignments of error: that the district court erred in affirming the Commission's decision because the property was not assessed by Assessor Williams using one of the statutorily required assessment methods, and that the district court erred in affirming the Commission's decision because the property was not assessed fairly and uniformly along with other properties with Class “A” office buildings in New Orleans.

ANALYSIS

Standard of Review

Judicial review of Commission decisions is authorized by La. R.S. 47:1998(A). See also La. R.S. 47:2134 (providing for suits in district court to recover taxes paid under protest.) The extent of that review is governed by La. R.S. 49:964(F) and (G). Panacon v. La. Tax Comm'n, 97-2093 (La. App. 1 Cir. 1/8/99), 747 So.2d 572, 573-74. Pursuant to La. R.S. 49:964(G), the district court may affirm or remand the decision of an agency, while the reversal or modification of that decision requires that additional conditions be met. Louisiana Revised Statute 49:964(G) restricts reversal or modification of agency decisions to instances in which:

substantial rights of the appellant have been prejudiced because the administrative findings, inferences, conclusions or decisions are:

(1) In violation of constitutional or statutory provisions;

(2) In excess of the statutory authority of the agency;

(3) Made upon unlawful procedure;

(4) Affected by other error of law;

(5) Arbitrary or capricious or characterized by abuse of discretion or clearly unwarranted exercise of discretion; or

(6) Not supported and sustainable by a preponderance of evidence as determined by the reviewing court. In the application of this rule, the court shall make its own determination and conclusions of fact by a preponderance of evidence based upon its own evaluation of the record reviewed in its entirety upon judicial review. In the application of the rule, where the agency has the opportunity to judge the credibility of witnesses by first-hand observation of demeanor on the witness stand and the reviewing court does not, due regard shall be given to the agency's determination of credibility issues.

When reviewing a final decision of an agency, the district court functions as an appellate court. EOP New Orleans, L.L.C. v. Louisiana Tax Comm'n, 2001-2966 (La. App. 1 Cir. 8/14/02), 831 So.2d 1005, 1008, writ denied, 2002-2395 (La. 11/27/02), 831 So.2d 286. An aggrieved party may obtain review of any final judgment of the district court by appeal to the appropriate court of appeal. See La. R.S. 49:965. On review of the district court's judgment, no deference is owed by the court of appeal to factual findings or legal conclusions of the district court, just as no deference is owed by the Louisiana Supreme Court to factual findings or legal conclusions of a court of appeal. EOP New Orleans, 831 So.2d at 1008.

Applicable Law

Louisiana Constitution Article VII, § 18, is entitled “Ad Valorem Taxes” and provides in pertinent part as follows:

(A) Assessments. Property subject to ad valorem taxation shall be listed on the assessment rolls at its assessed valuation, which, except as provided in Paragraphs (C) and (G), shall be a percentage of its fair market value. The percentage of fair market value shall be uniform throughout the state upon the same class of property.

(B) Classification. The classifications of property subject to ad valorem taxation and the percentage of fair market value applicable to each classification for the purpose of determining assessed valuation are as follows:

Classifications Percentages 1. Land 10% ․ 5. Other property 15% ․

(D) Valuation. Each assessor shall determine the fair market value of all property subject to taxation within his respective parish or district. ․ Fair market value and use value of property shall be determined in accordance with criteria which shall be established by law and which shall apply uniformly throughout the state.

(E) Review. The correctness of assessments by the assessor shall be subject to review first by the parish governing authority, then by the Louisiana Tax Commission or its successor, and finally by the courts, all in accordance with procedures established by law.

(F) Reappraisal. All property subject to taxation shall be reappraised and valued in accordance with this Section, at intervals of not more than four years.

The legislature has complied with the mandate of La. Const. art. VII, § 18(D) by enacting La. R.S. 47:2321 and 47:2323, which provide as follows:

§ 2321. Fair market value; defined

Fair market value is the price for property which would be agreed upon between a willing and informed buyer and a willing and informed seller under usual and ordinary circumstances; it shall be the highest price estimated in terms of money which property will bring if exposed for sale on the open market with reasonable time allowed to find a purchaser who is buying with knowledge of all the uses and purposes to which the property is best adapted and for which it can be legally used.

§ 2323. Criteria for determining fair market value; real and personal property; unoccupied residential immovable property

A. The criteria for determining fair market value shall apply uniformly throughout the state. Uniform guidelines, procedures and rules and regulations as are necessary to implement said criteria shall be adopted by the Louisiana Tax Commission only after public hearings held pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act.

B. Each assessor shall follow the uniform guidelines, procedures, and rules and regulations in determining the fair market value of all property subject to taxation within his respective parish or district. Any manual or manuals used by an assessor shall be subject to approval by the Louisiana Tax Commission or its successor agency.

C. Criteria.

The fair market value of real and personal property shall be determined by the following generally recognized appraisal procedures: the market approach, the cost approach, and/or the income approach.

(1) In utilizing the market approach, the assessor shall use an appraisal technique in which the market value estimate is predicated upon prices paid in actual market transactions and current listings.

(2) In utilizing the cost approach, the assessor shall use a method in which the value of a property is derived by estimating the replacement or reproduction cost of the improvements; deducting therefrom the estimated depreciation; and then adding the market value of the land, if any.

(3) In utilizing the income approach, the assessor shall use an appraisal technique in which the anticipated net income is processed to indicate the capital amount of the investment which produces the net income.9

(footnote added).

Correctness of assessment

In its first assignment of error, plaintiff asserts that Assessor Williams breached his constitutional duty to assess all property subject to taxation fairly and uniformly in accordance with the criteria established by statute. Plaintiff contends that Assessor Williams admitted he did not use the mandatory valuation methods of La. R.S. 47:2323(C) but instead added the outstanding building permits for capital improvements (when he had them) to the existing valuations for the properties with Class “A” office buildings and multiplied that sum by 17%. Plaintiff also argues that the fairness of an assessment can only be meaningfully evaluated by comparison with the share of the total property tax burden of others similarly situated relative to their property holdings, referring to Allegheny Pittsburgh Coal Co. v. Cnty. Comm'n of Webster Cnty., W.V., 488 U.S. 336, 346, 109 S.Ct. 633, 639, 102 L.Ed.2d 688 (1989). Plaintiff notes that a taxpayer's rights of equal protection can be violated if there is a pattern of a lack of uniformity of assessments that is intentional, although intent may be inferred from a systematic lack of uniformity. See In re Protest of Dow Chemical Co., 458 So.2d 955, 959 (La. App. 1 Cir. 1984).

In its second assignment of error, plaintiff complains that the district court erred in affirming the Commission's decision because its property was not assessed fairly and uniformly in relation to other properties with Class “A” office buildings. Mr. McNamara testified that he and plaintiff did not dispute the $80,000,000 valuation Mr. Wadick obtained (and the Commission apparently adopted) when viewed in isolation, but they did dispute it when compared with other Class “A” buildings.

Assessor Williams responds to plaintiff's contentions by arguing that the original assessment is not the issue before this court, but the issue is the decision of the Commission, which found the fair market value of the improvements to be $77,574,000. We agree with the assessor because there is statutory and jurisprudential support for his contention that review in this case is limited to the Commission's decision. Louisiana Revised Statutes 49:956(G) supports Assessor Williams' position because it refers to the review of “administrative findings, inferences, conclusion or decisions.” Moreover, in several cases, where, as in the case at bar, the Commission valued the property differently than the assessor, the appellate court has reviewed the actions of the Commission, not the assessor. In EOP New Orleans, 831 So.2d at 1009-10, this Court reviewed the Commission's adoption of its staff appraisal, which differed from the assessor's, by reviewing the basis of the Commission's appraisal pursuant to La. R.S. 49:964(G); this Court affirmed the district court's judgment, which affirmed the Commission's action. In Johnson v. LaSalle Hotel Operating P'ship, L.P., 2000-2269 (La. App. 1 Cir. 12/28/01), 803 So.2d 1100, 1101-03, writ denied, 2002-0288 (La. 4/26/02), 814 So.2d 556, this Court reviewed the Commission's adoption of the appraisal by the taxpayer's appraisal expert and reversed the district court's reversal of the Commission's decision. Similarly, in Hotel de la Monnaie Owners Ass'n, Inc. v. La. Tax Comm'n, 95-1009 (La. App. 1 Cir. 12/15/95), 669 So.2d 455, 459-60, writ denied, 96-0956 (La. 5/31/96), 673 So.2d 1030, this Court found that the Commission's adoption of its staff appraisal was supported by the record and reversed the district court's reversal of the Commission's decision. In Bailey v. Enervest Operating Co., LLC, 45,553 (La. App. 2 Cir. 6/3/10), 43 So.3d 1046, 1057, the Second Circuit reinstated the Commission's determination of fair market value and reversed the district court, which had reversed the Commission's ruling and reinstated the assessor's determination of fair market value. In Panacon, after reviewing the Commission's decision to adopt its staff appraiser's appraisal, this Court reversed the district court and remanded the case to the Commission because there was no supporting documentation or testimony for that appraisal in the record. 747 So.2d at 577. Finally, in Erich Sternberg Realty Co., Inc., v. La. Tax Comm'n, 560 So.2d 868 (La. App. 1 Cir.), writ denied, 567 So.2d 107 (La. 1990), this Court reviewed the assessor's land valuation, but that valuation was affirmed by the Commission so that in reviewing the Commission's decision the assessor's valuation was reviewed. Thus, in deciding this matter pursuant to La. R.S. 49:964(G) and in accordance with the jurisprudence, this Court will review the evidence presented to determine whether the Commission's decision finding the fair market value of the property to be $80,000,000 was arbitrary or capricious.10 For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the decision of the Commission. See La. R.S. 49:964(G).

As discussed above, at the hearing before the Commission, Assessor Williams testified regarding the basis for his method of valuation. He testified that after rejecting the cost-based valuation of $163,811,820 as excessive, his office tried at least twice to obtain income and expense information from each property owner to build a model for a mass appraisal based on income and expenses. His office issued a form to the taxpayers that stated:

If we do not receive detailed reports from property owners, we are forced to compute next year's assessment from alternative methods that may not accurately reflect the true property value. Recently, in order to cope with the volume of commercial properties in Orleans Parish, the Assessor's Office hired a private contractor to recommend valuations.

In this case, the form then set forth the proposed assessed value of plaintiff's property. According to Assessor Williams, less than 10% of the property owners responded.11

Assessor Williams explained that in his third year of failing to obtain enough data, he and others in his office discussed using the 17% number to represent the number of years since the last valuation.12 According to Assessor Williams, the percentage was applied to all property owners “uniformly across the board.” Assessor Williams testified that plaintiff returned a blank form and failed to provide any income and expense information.13

Plaintiff mainly relied on Mr. McNamara's testimony before the Commission to rebut the valuation by Assessor Williams. Based on his spreadsheet, Mr. McNamara testified that not all of the properties' assessments were increased by 17%. According to Mr. McNamara, comparable properties had their assessments increased by 0% (Canal Place), 3.5% (639 Loyola), 12.5% (Pan American Life Center), and 51% (One Shell Square) and plaintiff's property was increased by 31.25%. According to Mr. McNamara, the tax per square foot ranged from a high of almost $2.60 for One Shell Square to a low of $1.28 per square foot for 1555 Poydras Street. He opined that the $1.20 per square foot difference was “too big of a spread.” Mr. McNamara explained that the properties on his list were comparable because they were all Class “A” office buildings in New Orleans' Central Business District and they comprised the standard class. He testified that the market and the experts decide what a Class “A” office building is. However, Mr. McNamara did not deny that the owners of One Shell Square and Pan American Life Center paid more tax per square foot than plaintiff.14

Notably, when asked by a tax commissioner what the fair market value of plaintiff's property would be if the income and expense information been furnished to Assessor Williams, Mr. McNamara testified that the assessor would have calculated a value of $80,000,000, which was the income valuation Mr. Wadick, plaintiff's appraiser, submitted. Mr. Wadick's appraisal for plaintiff was based on all financial data necessary to perform the appraisal, and the appraisal conformed to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice of the Appraisal Foundation and the Code of Professional Ethics of the Appraisal Institute. Attached to Mr. Wadick's report was the income and expense information on which he relied. When performing the sales comparison and income capitalization valuations of plaintiff's property, Mr. Wadick compared the property to five office towers he believed were the most similar. Mr. Wadick valued the property at $80,000,000 using the income-based approach and at $81,000,000 using the sales-comparison approach. He ultimately concluded that the market value of the property was $80,000,000

In disputing Mr. McNamara's valuation before the Commission, Assessor Williams testified that he believed there were only five Class “A” buildings which were comparable to plaintiff's. When asked about the figures derived from Mr. McNamara's spreadsheet, Assessor Williams testified that Canal Place was not increased because it consisted of a series of condominiums, which are under a different code than the Central Business District office buildings. As to the Pan American Life building, Assessor Williams was asked about the 12.67% increase. He stated that before the close of the tax rolls, the percentage should have been 17%. He added, “If it's after the close of rolls, that means the person came in and provided evidence and we adjusted the assessment. That's the only way it could happen.” When asked about the 3.5% increase on the building at 639 Loyola Avenue, he stated that he was unfamiliar with the building.

The Assessor also presented the testimony of Bush Benton, an MAI appraiser who had been appraising commercial properties for over twenty years, to rebut Mr. McNamara's conclusions. Mr. Benton disagreed with Mr. McNamara's valuation of plaintiff's property using averages because he believed that the valuation should be based on what properties were most comparable, not all properties with Class “A” buildings. He opined that there were only three Class “A” buildings in New Orleans that were most comparable to plaintiff's property based on location, quality, condition, and income.

Plaintiff offered the testimony of Mr. Bennett Davis, leasing director for plaintiff and broker for Corporate Realty, who stated that he disagreed with Mr. Benton because Mr. Benton's comparison failed to take into account various expenses associated with the operation of the properties when analyzing income. However, Mr. Davis also testified that one of the properties Mr. McNamara included on his spreadsheet should not be included because it was not the caliber of the other Class “A” buildings.

The assessor presented the testimony of Thomas Sandoz, the Assessor's Office's real estate appraiser, who prepared a document to rebut Mr. McNamara's conclusions.15 Notably, Mr. Sandoz testified that there was little difference in the range of values per square foot amongst the Class “A” buildings on Mr. McNamara's list.16 In reaching this finding, he calculated the fair market value per square foot for each of the fourteen properties Mr. McNamara submitted. Next, he compared the fair market value per square foot to that of plaintiff's property. Mr. Sandoz then compiled an average difference and a median, removed the high and low outliers, and again determined the average difference. Without the high and low, he found that the average was less than 1% and the median was a 2 1/2% differential. After removing the high outlier, the document lists five properties with fair market value per square foot greater than plaintiff's.

In determining the fair market value of plaintiff's improvements, the Commission apparently adopted the appraisal submitted by plaintiff's appraiser, Mr. Wadick, who used two statutorily-approved methods, the income approach and the market approach. The Commission had before it multiple values: $55,267,258 (Mr. McNamara's), $87,474,600 (the Board's), $82,000,000 (Mr. Thom's), and $80,000,000 (Mr. Wadick's). We cannot say that the Commission's decision to assign the $80,000,000 to plaintiff's property was not supported by a preponderance of the evidence. We likewise do not find that its decision to adopt this value was arbitrary, capricious or an abuse of discretion. Plaintiff's assignments of error lack merit.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the judgment of the district court, which affirmed the decision of the Louisiana Tax Commission. All costs of this appeal are assessed to 201 St. Charles Place, LLC.

AFFIRMED.

FOOTNOTES

1.   The existing valuation for plaintiff's property was a $67,000,000 assessment in 2008. Assessor Williams also testified that plaintiff's property was sold in November 2008 for $103,000,000, but this sale price was not considered in the valuation.

2.   Assessor Williams testified that the 3.2% represented the GNP or gross national product; however, he also testified that it represented the cost of living index.

3.   Plaintiff employed Mr. McNamara, president of McNamara Associates, a company which provides real estate tax services and consulting services to commercial clients throughout the south. Mr. McNamara had attended International Association of Assessing Officer courses, held a real estate broker's license in the past, and taught continuing education programs. Plaintiff offered him as an expert in assessment methods and techniques, but not as an appraiser. Assessor Williams had no objection to Mr. McNamara testifying as a representative of plaintiff; however, he did object to Mr. McNamara testifying as an expert in the areas of law and unequal treatment of taxation.

4.   Mr. McNamara later removed one of the properties from the list because it was receiving a restoration tax abatement.

5.   MAI is an acronym for Designated Member of the Appraisal Institute.

6.   Mr. Dickey testified that he was Mr. Thom's supervisor and that Mr. Thom worked for the Commission for seven years, but had recently left the Commission. Mr. Dickey participated in the site inspection of plaintiff's building and reviewed the appraisal.

7.   We note that plaintiff raised the issue of the assessor's failure to use statutorily required appraisal methods before the Commission. Assessor Williams filed a peremptory exception of lack of subject matter jurisdiction, which the Commission denied, stating that plaintiff's claims were “predominately issues of correctness of the valuation of its property.” (Any challenge seeking to correct a value, no matter how erroneous that value may allegedly be, which does not seek to annul the assessment in toto, is a correctness challenge. See Gisclair v. La. Tax Comm'n, 2009-0007 (La. 6/26/09), 16 So.3d 1132, 1139. The fact that a taxpayer alleged that the valuation was premised on an erroneous application of statutory methodology and flawed criteria did not turn the challenge into a legality challenge over which the district court would not have appellate jurisdiction. Id.) The Commission did not discuss Assessor Williams' method of appraisal in its decision.

8.   Plaintiff named as a defendant the Commission, and as nominal defendants, Assessor Williams and Norman Foster in his capacity as Chief Financial Officer of City of New Orleans Department of Finance and ex-officio Tax Collector for the Parish of Orleans. Plaintiff paid $694,966.55 in taxes under protest and also paid $1,424,410.41 representing the undisputed portion pursuant to the $2,199,376.96 tax bill the City issued on January 1, 2013.

9.   La. R.S. 47:2323(C)(3) was amended by 2016 La. Acts, No. 182 to substitute the word “capitalized” for “processed.” However, the Act states that it is not effective until January 1, 2017, and therefore, it does not apply to this case.

10.   Because we are reviewing the Commission's decision to adopt the valuation submitted by plaintiff's appraiser, we will pretermit plaintiff's contention regarding Assessor Williams' admitted lack of compliance with La. R.S. 47:2323 and Assessor Williams' argument in response, that his alleged difficulty in obtaining the necessary information excused the failure to use a valuation method listed in La. R.S. 47:2323.

11.   Thomas Sandoz, a real estate appraiser for the Assessor's Office, also testified that the Class “A” building owners did not provide the needed information.

12.   As earlier noted, Assessor Williams was required to reassess the property at intervals of not more than four years. See La. Const. Art. VII, § 18 (F).

13.   Louisiana Revised Statutes 47:2329 provides that “[w]henever any property owner fails to make any report required to be made under the provisions of this Act at the time such report becomes due, the property owner shall have no legal right or cause to question or contest the determination of fair market value by the assessor.” See BassP'ship v. Gravolet, 2012-0024 (La. App. 4 Cir. 11/21/12), 105 So.3d 224, 233, writ denied, 2012-2741 (La. 3/1/13), 108 So.3d 1176.In this case, plaintiff did return the form, but, according to testimony from the assessor, it did not contain the needed information. However, Mr. McNamara maintained at the hearing before the Commission that he had submitted a filled-out form to the Assessor's Office, but he did not get a time-stamped copy to support his contention.

14.   Assessor Williams pointed out that Mr. McNamara had a contract with plaintiff where he could receive a bonus based on the percentage of the difference between the original assessed fair market value and any reduction achieve; however, Mr. McNamara testified that this did not influence his evaluation.

15.   In Mr. Sandoz's analysis, unlike Mr. McNamara's, he used gross total square footage, which included all the land parcels belonging to a property, such as a parking garage. According to Mr. Sandoz, plaintiff's gross square footage is 1,238,687 based on the measurements Tyler Technologies did for the Assessor's Office. Mr. McNamara testified that he did not use the total square footage of plaintiff's building (1,004,484), but deducted the square footage in the storage areas (11,000), and used the figure of 992,000 square feet. Like Mr. McNamara, Mr. Wadick and Mr. Thom used the leasable square footage with a slightly different value: 992,992 square feet. Mr.Benton used 1,004,484 square feet.

16.   As earlier stated, we are reviewing the Commission's decision to adopt the valuation submitted by the plaintiff's appraiser. We note, though, that in reviewing the testimony and evidence before the Commission, it does appear that the appraisal met the constitutional requirements of fairness and uniformity.

HOLDRIDGE, J.

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