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Rushmore Shadows, LLC v. Pennington County Bd. of Equalization

Supreme Court of South Dakota

October 9, 2013

RUSHMORE SHADOWS, LLC, Appellee,
v.
PENNINGTON COUNTY BOARD OF EQUALIZATION, Appellant.

Considered on Briefs on Aug. 27, 2013.

Page 815

Erika S. Olson of Wilson, Olson & Nash, PC, Rapid City, South Dakota, Attorneys for appellee.

Mark Vargo, Pennington County State's Attorney, Patrick M. Grode, Pennington County, Deputy State's Attorney, Rapid City, South Dakota, Attorneys for appellant.

ZINTER, Justice.

[¶ 1.] Rushmore Shadows uses fourteen " recreational park trailers" as cabins in a campground it operates.[1] Pennington County (the County) assessed the cabins as real property for ad valorem taxation purposes, and Rushmore Shadows appealed. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the circuit court reversed, concluding tat the cabins were not taxable under SDCL 10-4-2. We reverse.

Facts and Procedural History

[¶ 2.] The parties stipulated to the facts. Rushmore Shadows is the owner of fourteen recreational park trailers that are used as cabins for lodging. The cabins are located in Rushmore Shadows' campground in Rapid City. They are identified by names, such as Iron Creek Cabin, Coyote Cabin, and Horse Thief Cabin.

[¶ 3.] The trailers were built on a single chassis with wheels, and they do not exceed 400 square feet in size.[2] After

Page 816

being manufactured, they were towed to the campground and set up on blocks. The wheels, brakes, and safety lights were removed. They were skirted and attached to decks by lag bolts, but neither the trailers nor the decks were physically attached to the ground.

[¶ 4.] The trailers were put into use as cabins at different times. Seven were placed on their current sites and put into use thirteen years ago. Three were placed in 2008, and the other four were placed in 2009. Seven of the trailers were registered as vehicles in 2008, although those registrations were not renewed. The remaining seven have never been registered as vehicles. None of the trailers have been moved since being put into use as cabins.

[¶ 5.] The cabins have similar utility connections. Each is supplied with fuel by an onsite propane tank. Electricity is provided by electrical hookup boxes next to each cabin. Sewage and graywater are removed through PVC pipe going into the ground, and water is provided by a hose. Each year, before freezing, the water and sewer are disconnected. The cabins are then reconnected to the water and sewer in the spring. The cabins are not used while disconnected from the water and sewer.

[¶ 6.] In 2012, the County included the value of the cabins in Rushmore Shadows' real property tax assessment. The County contended that they met the statutory definition of taxable real property in SDCL 10-4-2(2). Rushmore Shadows objected, but the Pennington County Board of Equalization affirmed the assessment. Rushmore Shadows appealed to the circuit court. Rushmore Shadows and the County stipulated to the facts and filed cross-motions for summary judgment. After a hearing, the circuit court granted Rushmore Shadows' motion and denied the ...


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