MMSA appeals tax liabilityM
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area has appealed Mono County’s assessment of its taxable value for the years 2012 through 2016. There is a $250 million difference between MMSA’s assessed value and the value in its appeal. If MMSA wins this all of its appeals, the county will owe the mountain as much as $2.5 million in taxes plus 3% interest, according to county assessor Barry Beck.
“There is the potential for significant impact,” Beck said.
The appeal is scheduled for seven business days. It started Tuesday, February 19 and runs through Thursday, February 28 with a day off on Thursday, February 21.
The assessment appeals board is hearing MMSA’s case. It is made up of three members: Paul Oster, Rick Liebersbach, and Mickey Brown. They will deliberate in closed session after the hearing ends and come to a decision in the next few weeks.
The dispute stems from a longstanding agreement between the mountain and the county.
According to California Proposition 13 only two events can trigger the reappraisal of a property: change of ownership, or new construction, which only triggers an appraisal of the new construction itself.
In 2005, Mammoth Mountain was purchased by Intrawest. The county appraised the mountain’s value at that time and the assessor and mountain came to an agreement to lock in that value for the years of 2005-2011.
For 2012, the county calculated the mountain’s value in accordance with Prop. 13. This entailed retroactively applying annual increases to the mountain’s value of either 2% or the California Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever was lower.
The county has continued to apply this Prop 13 method of valuation to the Mountain up until 2017, when Intrawest and Mammoth were bought by KSL Capital Partners.
The mountain claims that its fair market value is lower than the Prop. 13 value that it has been assigned.
As of press time, Mammoth had brought two witnesses to the hearing, MMSA CFO Mark Clausen and independent appraiser Brandon Hawks of SnoValuation. Much of the hearing has been confidential, and it is not apparent which way the appeals board is leaning. Paul Oster would not speak with The Sheet on the matter. He said, “As a member of the hearing panel it would be inappropriate for me to be discussing this matter until it is over, if at all.”
The county holds funds in an impound account to pay back taxes in cases like this one, though Beck did not know how much was in that account. County Finance Director Janet Dutcher does know, but she did not respond to The Sheet’s inquiries by press time.