An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Proced ure.

NO. COA03-1000


Filed: 3 August 2004

                            North Carolina Property
                            Tax Commission            < br>                             No. 02 PTC 496

    Appeal by taxpayer from final decision entered 12 May 2003 by the North Carolina Property Tax Commission. Heard in the Court of Appeals 22 April 2004.

    Franklin Smith, President of Taxpayer-Appellant, pro se.

    Parker, Poe, Adams & Bernstein, L.L.P., by Charles C. Meeker, for appellee Wilkes County.

    HUDSON, Judge.

    This is a taxpayer's appeal from the North Carolina Property Tax Commission's Final Decision on review of the County's valuation of taxpayer's property. Franklin Smith Enterprises, Inc. (“Taxpayer”) owns over 27 acres of land containing a 4415 square foot residence with garage and a 13,072 square foot garage/race shop.
    The record tends to show that Taxpayer has written letters to protest his tax valuation since 1996 but was not granted a hearing by the Wilkes County Board of Equalization and Review (“Board”) until 26 June 2002. The Board found that Taxpayer's appeal would only be for the years after 2000 because “the Taxpayer did not have an appeal” for the prior years. The Board concluded that theCounty's valuation of $663,420.00 as of 2000 tax year would not change.
    Taxpayer appealed to the North Carolina Property Tax Commission (“Commission”), sitting as the State Board of Equalization and Review, which affirmed the Board's decision. The Commission found that Taxpayer failed to show by competent, material, and substantial evidence: (1) that Wilkes County employed an arbitrary or illegal valuation method, (2) that a property value was assigned substantially exceeding the true value, and (3) that Taxpayer instituted an appeal prior to 2000. Thus, the Commission found that the Taxpayer's appeal for tax years 2000 to 2002 was properly dismissed, and that the decision of the 2002 Board would stand.
    Taxpayer now appeals to this Court. For the reasons stated below, we affirm the Commission's Order.
    This Court reviews final decisions of the Property Tax Commission pursuant to G.S. § 105-345.2, which provides, in part, that:
    The court may affirm or reverse the decision of the Commission, declare the same null and void, or remand the case for further proceedings; or it may reverse or modify the decision if the substantial rights of the appellants have been prejudiced because the Commission's findings, inferences, conclusions or decisions are:
        (1) In violation of constitutional provisions; or
        (2) In excess of statutory authority or jurisdiction of the Commission; or
        (3) Made upon unlawful proceedings; or
        (4) Affected by other errors of law; or
        (5) Unsupported by competent, material and substantial evidence in view of the entire record as submitted; or         (6) Arbitrary or capricious.

G.S. § 105-345.2(b) (2001). We conduct this review according to the “whole record test.” In re N. Wilkesboro Speedway, Inc. 158 N.C. App. 669, 672, 582 S.E.2d 39, ___ (2003).
    “The 'whole record' test is not a tool of judicial intrusion; instead, it merely gives a reviewing court the capability to determine whether an administrative decision has a rational basis in the evidence.” In re Owens, 132 N.C. App. 281, 286, 511 S.E.2d 319, 323 (1999), appeal after remand, 144 N.C. App. 349, 547 S.E.2d 827 (2001), disc. review denied, 354 N.C. 361, 556 S.E.2d 575 (2001). Under the “whole record” test, we must determine “whether the [Commission's] findings are supported by substantial evidence contained in the whole record.” Whiteco Outdoor Adver. v. Johnston County Bd. of Adjust., 132 N.C. App. 465, 468, 513 S.E.2d 70, 73 (1999). Substantial evidence is that which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Id.
    Our courts have long held that “it is the function of the administrative agency to determine the weight and sufficiency of the evidence and the credibility of the witnesses, to draw inferences from the facts, and to appraise conflicting and circumstantial evidence.” In re McElwee, 304 N.C. 68, 87, 283 S.E.2d 115, 126-27 (1981). As the reviewing court, “[w]e cannot substitute our judgment for that of the agency when the evidence is conflicting.” Id. at 87, 283 S.E.2d at 127. Thus, we may not “weigh the evidence presented to the [Commission] and substitute [our] evaluation of the evidence for that of the [Commission].” Inre Amp, 287 N.C. 547, 562, 215 S.E.2d 752, 761 (1975). Regarding the credibility of the witnesses, this Court has noted that:
        Credibility determinations and the probative value of particular testimony are for the administrative body to determine, and it may accept or reject in whole or part the testimony of any witness.

Oates v. N.C. Dept. of Correction
, 114 N.C. App. 597, 601, 442 S.E.2d 542, 545 (1994) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
    In his assignment of error, taxpayer alleges only that the Commission erred “in granting the County's motion to dismiss at the close of the evidence.” In his brief, taxpayer seeks, essentially asks this Court to re-weigh the evidence, including the expert testimony, and decide anew whether or not evidence of a substantial difference in property value existed, as well as to have this Court reverse the Commission's tax valuations of his property. In order to address the issues in this manner, this Court would be required to address the weight and credibility of the evidence, which is beyond the reviewing function of this Court. Further, to the extent that the arguments advanced by the taxpayer in his brief far exceed the scope of the ruling on the motion to dismiss, they are not properly before this Court.
    Nonetheless, we conclude that the evidence supports the Commission's findings, and that the cost approach method of tax valuation is appropriate and consistent with the Wilkes County Board of Commissioners' valuation schedule as well as North Carolina case law. See In re Appeal of the Greens of Pine Glen,Ltd., 356 N.C. 642, 648, 576 S.E.2d 316, 320 (2003) (holding that the cost approach is an authorized method of property appraisal). Thus, the Commission's decision did not violate the taxpayer's rights, did not prejudice him, and the approach used was not an arbitrary or illegal method. Thus, we affirm the Commission's Order.
    Judges MCCULLOUGH and LEVINSON concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

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