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In re Appeal of Interstate Outdoor Inc.

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

September 16, 2014

IN THE MATTER OF: THE APPEAL OF: Interstate Outdoor Incorporated from the decision of the Johnston County Board of Equalization and Review regarding the valuation of certain business personal property for tax year 2012

Heard in the Court of Appeals August 12, 2014.

Page 173

North Carolina. Property Tax Commission. PTC Nos. 11 PTC 1062, 12 PTC 1683 .

Spence & Spence, P.A., by Robert A. Spence, for appellant Interstate Outdoor Incorporated.

David F. Mills, P.A., by David F. Mills, for appellee County of Johnston.

STROUD, Judge. Chief Judge MCGEE and Judge BRYANT concur.

OPINION

Page 174

STROUD, Judge.

Appeal by Interstate Outdoor Incorporated from Final Decisions entered on or about 19 September 2013 by the North Carolina Property Tax Commission.

Interstate Outdoor, Inc. (" Interstate" ) appeals from two final decisions of the Property Tax Commission. It argues that the Commission erroneously affirmed ad valorem tax assessments for 2011 and 2012 made by Johnston County regarding 69 billboards it owns. We affirm the Commission's decisions because Interstate failed to produce substantial evidence that the valuation method used by Johnston County was arbitrary or illegal.

I. Background

Interstate is a corporation that owns and rents out billboards in 40 counties in North Carolina, including approximately 80 billboards in Johnston County. Interstate appealed Johnston County Tax Administration's valuation of 60 billboards it owned in Johnston County for tax years 2011 and 2012, as well as nine new billboards it bought in 2012. For tax year 2011, the county valued Interstate's property at $2,547,577. Interstate asserts its property was actually worth $1,923,746. For tax year 2012, the county valued Interstate's property at $2,786,200. Interstate asserted that its property was actually worth $1,790,691. To value the billboards, Johnston County relied on the Billboard Structures Valuation Guide published by the North Carolina Department of Revenue, which is updated annually.

On appeal to the Property Tax Commission, Interstate argued that the county had significantly overestimated the value of its property and introduced what it considered the proper estimate for each billboard. To

Page 175

do so, it asked one of its normal billboard contractors for ten quotes on different types of billboards. It then used one of the ten quotes for each of the billboards of contested value. Additionally, Interstate highlighted that the 2011 and 2012 tax values were approximately eighteen percent higher than those for 2010. In 2010, Interstate had appealed the valuation of its billboards. The parties reached a negotiated settlement, which valued its property at $1,923,746. Interstate argued that the value should remain the same for the 2011 and 2012 tax years.

The Property Tax Commission found that Interstate failed to show that the quotes it used " included all the costs that make the property ready for its intended uses," or a substantial connection between the quotes and the actual costs of constructing the billboards at issue. It therefore affirmed Johnston County's valuation for ...


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