When the owner of the Xenion Motel tried to appeal the county assessor’s valuation of the Third Street property, the county agreed with the owner that the valuation was too high. But when the assessor appealed that decision to the state, it slapped down the county’s decision in a ruling of its own issued last month.
The dispute — between property owner Maximus Bossarei and Albany County Assessor Grant Showacre — hinges, in part, on the difference between anticipated and actual repairs, according to the State Board of Equalization’s Aug. 20 decision.
According to Showacre’s testimony, Bossarei allegedly said he would perform “hundreds of thousands of dollars” worth of repairs and renovation, so Showacre discounted the motel’s initial valuation with that in mind.
Bossarei later testified that he spent just $25,000 on light repairs, according to the decision.
Now, Showacre’s new 2019 valuation — which is more than double the earlier, discounted, 2018 valuation — stands, following the state board’s decision.
A property’s assessed valuation determines the value of that property for tax purposes.
Unless the state board’s decision is appealed and overturned, the Xenion Motel will have to pay taxes according to the 2019 valuation of $571,000.
Neither Showacre nor Bossarei would comment for this story.
County board sides with BossareiThe Xenion Motel is difficult to miss driving through Downtown Laramie, sitting as it does along one of the city’s main drags. The prominent location sits between University and Fremont Avenues, sharing its block with Daylight Donuts and Grounds Internet and Coffee Lounge.
According to the State Board of Equalization’s decision, Bossarei purchased the motel in 2018, less than a year after it went out of business. The motel notably featured large graffiti on the two-story building’s alley-side — a parting gesture from the property’s former owners.
Albany County Assessor Grant Showacre assessed the property’s value that year at $265,000, according to the decision. However, this figure included a “cost-to-cure” reduction designed to account for the cost of anticipated improvements.
The reduction was always meant to be temporary and would be removed when the motel became operational, according to the state board’s decision.
“Although (Showacre) had anticipated a cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate, Bossarei testified that he spent approximately $25,000 to paint and ‘cover,’ i.e. perform light repairs,” the state board’s decision reads. “(Showacre) answered that he would not have discounted the motel’s value to $265,000 had he known that Bossarei only intended to make light improvements. (Showacre) repeatedly testified that Bossarei had conveyed that more substantial renovations would occur.”
When the Xenion reopened in 2019 and Showacre removed the cost-to-cure reduction, the property’s new valuation stood at $571,000 — more than double what it had been the year before with the reduction had been in place, according to the state board’s decision.
Bossarei appealed Showacre’s valuation to the Albany County Board of Equalization, which is staffed by the three elected members of the Albany County Commission.
Bossarei argued the first valuation was calculated based on incorrect assumptions, mainly the cost of anticipated repairs, according to the decision.
Because Bossarei had paid $25,000 in light repairs, not the “hundreds of thousands of dollars” Showacre had anticipated, Bossarei argued the first valuation was inaccurate and that using it to determine the 2019 valuation was therefore flawed, according to the decision.
The county board agreed with Bossarei.
“The Board finds that the Petitioner (Bossarei) has shown that a correct assessment for the value of this property should reflect a current ‘cost-to-cure’ valuation proportional to the ‘cost-to-cure’ reduction minus the cost of actual improvements (including any increase in value said improvements may equate to) that the Petitioner has actually performed on the property and not based on assumed improvements,” according to a summary of the county board’s decision published in the state board’s later decision.
State board sides with Showacre
Showacre appealed the county board’s ruling to the Wyoming State Board of Equalization.
“Assessor (Showacre) challenges the County Board’s reversal, arguing the County Board ignored his 2019 valuation,” the state board’s decision states. “He further argues that Bossarei did not demonstrate with evidence that his 2019 valuation was incorrect. Indeed, Bossarei challenged the 2019 valuation primarily by contrasting it with the previous year’s valuation, which Assessor conceded was excessively reduced to allow for anticipated motel renovation costs.”
Bossarei argued that the new valuation should not be based on the first valuation, which was flawed, according to the state board’s decision. However, the state decided, Bossarei failed to show that the new valuation was itself actually inaccurate.
“Although Bossarei compellingly questioned how Assessor could properly more than double the motel’s valuation in one year, and notwithstanding the County Board’s logical decision and direction that the Assessor carefully account for remaining functional obsolescence, we must disagree with the County Board,” the decision reads. “Bossarei supplied insufficient evidence to demonstrate that Assessor failed to comply with Wyoming statute when he prepared the 2019 valuation.”
The state board ultimately reversed the county board’s decision, and upheld Showacre’s new assessment of the Xenion Motel.
“We find the County Board’s decision is not supported by substantial evidence,” the decision reads. “The County Board broadly presumed the 2018 assessment to be correct and concluded the 2019 assessment — because it differed substantially from the earlier assessment — is incorrect. The County Board received insufficient evidence that Assessor (Showacre) performed the 2019 appraisal and assessment incorrectly.”