|By Brandee Hayhurst, Times-News, Burlington, N.C.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
July 8, 2004 - GRAHAM, N.C. -- The N.C. Court of Appeals said this week that Alamance County improperly assessed the property value of the Burlington Holiday Inn.
A tax assessor for the county decided in 2001 that the Holiday Inn, owned by Greensboro-based Weaver Investment Co., was worth more than $4.8 million.
Weaver Investment Co. hired an expert that assessed the property at nearly $2.9 million. At the county's current tax rate, the lower estimate means a savings of almost $10,000 a year.
Court stated in its opinion that Alamance County used a cost approach, which is an arbitrary and illegal method of assessing the hotel's property value.
Under the cost approach, a tax assessor estimated how much it would cost to rebuild the hotel, subtracted any wear and tear on the building and then added the value of the land.
The Appeals Court prefers appraisals based on an income approach, "the 'most reliable' method to determine the market value of investment or income-producing property."
The preferred approach considers the location and income-producing potential of a property. Weaver Investment Co. argued that room occupancy levels and revenues were dropping at the Holiday Inn.
The N.C. Property Tax Commission already ruled in Weaver's favor in May 2003. The Court of Appeals decision upholds that ruling.
"We were really pleased with the result," said Charles Marshall, one of the attorneys representing the investment company. "We do not have any word on what the county's next steps will be."
The county could ask the state Supreme Court to review the case in the hopes that the higher court will overturn the ruling. County attorney David Smith did not return calls for his comment.
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