Allison Formby, who owns land on Shiloh Road, took the battle against the valuation all the way to Superior Court where Judge Richard Sutton presided over the jury trial Thursday.
Formby, who represented herself, became obviously frustrated with the trial process. She almost gave up during a cross-examination when County Attorney Brad McFall kept objecting to her questioning and Sutton reminded her to keep her questions on point.
Formby did later decide to stop the trial, which put the issue of the valuation in Sutton’s hands for a directed verdict.
Sutton ruled in favor of the county.
Formby said her main issue was with the land valuation, not with approximately $82,000 valuation on the house.
She said the county has her land valued at around $1,800 an acre and she would more likely get $1,000 if she sold it today.
Formby questioned appraiser Rebekah Lyles about failing to put comparables and other data about the land in her information brought to the Board of Evaluation (BOE) appeals hearing.
“That’s not my job,” Lyles said, adding that gathering land information belongs to another department.
Lyles explained that the property’s classification determined the information she brought.
“What happens in the BOE, when it specified land value, we pull numbers for land value. I saw it said residential, so I went to present residential information,” she said.
Formby relentlessly tried to bring information before the six-member jury showing the assessor’s office failed to supply proper documentation, omitted information and falsified other information.
However, because of court rules, man of her documents couldn’t be admitted. Also, because of court rules, information about land prices in Polk County couldn’t be admitted without witnesses in the courtroom to testify to their validity.
Janell Cook, chief appraiser, also took the stand. She testified open spaces are taxed at a higher rate than wooded. Cook also testified that the majority of Formby’s land is open space.
Formby disagreed and said maps show otherwise.
“A map from four years ago is showing more wooded than now and it’s grown up since then,” Formby said.
She asked Cook if appraisers have actually looked at her land.
“We aren’t going to send people to walk 80 acres,” Cook said. “We look at maps and look at some acreage.”