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Wood Ranch Property Owner Seeks Tax Refund : Lawsuit: Real estate company claims the county’s assessment was overblown. It wants $121,044 back.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A real estate company that owns property in the Wood Ranch housing development in Simi Valley claimed in a lawsuit filed Monday that Ventura County over-assessed the property by $6 million last year and then charged taxes for it.

CCL Realty II, a Newport Beach-based company, asked the Superior Court to order the county to refund $121,044 in taxes for the 1992-93 fiscal year.

The real estate company said it paid $230,311 in taxes for last fiscal year but should have paid only $109,267.

The county assessor could not be reached for comment late Monday.

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Wood Ranch is a financially troubled development on 3,000 acres in the southwestern portion of Simi Valley. It consists of about 2,400 luxury houses, condominiums and apartments--as well as a partly finished community park, a small shopping center and a fire station.

Last week, the Simi Valley school board approved an agreement with Wood Ranch developer Olympia/Roberts that gives the school district 1,800 acres of undeveloped residential land in lieu of $6.5 million the developer had agreed to pay for construction of an elementary school.

Earlier in the month, the Simi Valley City Council agreed to save Wood Ranch from default by allowing developers five more years to pay $250,000 for a road-widening project.

But an attorney for Olympia/Roberts, which is not connected with the company that filed Monday’s lawsuit against Ventura County, said the issue of disputed taxes has nothing to do with Wood Ranch’s financial difficulties.

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The attorney, Frank L. Rugani, said property owners throughout Ventura County and across the state are challenging tax assessors on what many believe are inflated property valuations.

“Counties are very concerned about it because property taxes provide a substantial source of funding for the county budget,” Rugani said.

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He said that because of the recession of the early 1990s, property values have dropped in California, while demand for county services appears to have skyrocketed.

The lawsuit says CCL Realty purchased 79 parcels at Wood Ranch for $5.5 million in August, 1992.

But the suit alleges that the assessor’s office based CCL Realty’s supplemental taxes on the parcels having a value of roughly $11.7 million.

A supplemental assessment occurs when property changes hands and the county reassesses the value of the property, Rugani said.

CCL Realty claims the supplemental assessment resulted in a tax bill of $230,311, instead of the $109,267 it should have paid based on the purchase price and annual increases allowed under Proposition 13.

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Short of proving that CCL Realty paid less than fair market value for the property, the county was obligated under state tax law to use the company’s purchase price in computing the supplemental tax, the lawsuit says.

The suit does not say if CCL Realty sought reassessment from an administrative board that reviews assessed property values. A spokesman for CCL Realty declined to comment.


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