Decision drops property tax from nearly $17,000 to $615

Shawnee County corrected its records Monday to reflect a Kansas Board of Tax Appeals conclusion that a mansion in southwest Shawnee County is worthless.

Commissioners Ted Ensley, Mary Thomas and Shelly Buhler voted 3-0 to approve a correction order reducing the value of improvements from $526,300 to $0 for the property owned by Daniel and Peggy Bailey at 5037 S.W. Urish Road.

The move lowers the Baileys’ 2011 property tax bill on the property from $16,973.30 to $615.83.

County appraiser Mark Hixon told commissioners he thought the Baileys had paid their total 2011 property tax bill, meaning they would get a refund.

Monday’s vote came after Hixon said a 218-page report made by a licensed engineer helped bring about the tax appeals board decision.

“In my opinion, unless we want to get an engineering report, I really don’t think my appraisers are qualified to go toe-to-toe with an engineer,” he said.

Property value had initially been set at $1.4 million for the 11,188-square-foot mansion, which has been under construction for at least two years. Hixon said no building permit was acquired to build the property, which the county subsequently learned was under construction.

The Baileys, in filing their tax appeal, contended the home should be valued at negative $130,000, to reflect the cost of demolishing it.

But after an Aug. 27 hearing, Board of Tax Appeals hearing officer Carl Edwards concluded the building’s value was $0.

Edwards indicated the building was too structurally unsound to merit repairs. The 39.88-acre property was consequently appraised only for its farmstead and agricultural properties.

Hixon said the land’s actual market value is considerably more than its appraised value.

He said the property is appraised as agricultural, and land there has been used for agricultural purposes for quite some time.

In terms of being assessed low property taxes, Hixon told commissioners, “the only thing better than being agricultural classification is being exempt.”

The law requires that land devoted to agricultural use be appraised at its use value rather than its market value.

Hixon said after Monday’s meeting that market value is what the land would sell for in the open market and the 2009 sale price for the Bailey property of $340,000 ($8,525 per acre) is the best indicator of that.

“However, agricultural use values are established by the property valuation division of the department of revenue and those are not intended to come anywhere close to market value,” he said.

Hixon said county appraisers are required to use the agricultural use values established by the property valuation division.

“And, because we do not establish those values, we do not defend them,” he said.

Hixon said the 5037 S.W. Urish property’s proximity to the city of Topeka and other residential developments indicate it could be “exploited to its maximum potential” and used for residential or speculative purposes.

When asked Monday about the future of the mansion, Hixon said the homeowners had given no assurance it would be demolished.

Chris Joseph, an attorney for the Baileys, said last week they didn’t have a plan for the home and that nothing could happen to it during pending litigation. The Baileys are in the midst of a two-year legal battle with the home’s contractor, Randy Lilley Builders Inc.


By Tim Hrenchir

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