Report: AVI assessments ‘flawed,’ especially for lower-priced homes

avi
According to a report from the Crosstown Coalition of Taxpayers, many of these forms were returned to homeowners with “fundamentally flawed” figures. (Credit: Rikard Larma / Metro).

The Crosstown Coalition of Taxpayers, a group of 21 civic associations formed to address Philadelphia’s planned overhaul to the Actual Value Initiative of property tax assessments, announced on Tuesday the finalization of a report analyzing reassessment data calculated by the Office of Property Assessments for tax year 2014, when AVI is set to go into effect

According to the group, the report reveals the OPA’s valuation methods were “fundamentally flawed” and “fall far short of industry standards for accuracy.”

“The Crosstown Coalition of Taxpayers is in favor of the AVI goal of fair and accurate assessments, but must now reluctantly conclude that the job has not been well done,” CCoT’s Stephen Huntington said in a statement.

The Coalition in the report found that less expensive homes are overassessed, with homes whose sale prices are below $50,000 assessed at more than twice their market value.

The report claims multifamily properties, more expensive homes and large commercial buildings are overassessed, with the city’s two dozen largest office buildings being assessed at between 70 and 85 percent of their estimated market values.

Assessments on vacant land parcels that have been sold range from anywhere between 70 percent and 136 percent of their sale price, the group claims.

“Our analysis shows that the most expensive homes are assessed for less than their market value,” CCoT member Matt Ruben said in a statement.

“Homes selling for $50,000 are assessed at twice the market value. AVI is placing an unfair burden on the owners of lower-priced homes.”

Members of the Crosstown Coalition of Taxpayers will release the full report and discuss its findings in detail on Wednesday at City Hall, where they will be joined by City Council members Jim Kenney, Jannie Blackwell, Bill Green, Kenyatta Johnson and Mark Squilla.

The Council members will call on Mayor Michael Nutter to delay the implementation of AVI.

“I would like to thank the Crosstown Coalition of Taxpayers for its unbiased analysis of OPA’s data,” Squilla said in a statement.

“The report shows how much more work needs to be done before the assessments can be presented as fair and accurate.”

Data analysis chair Walt Spencer said the Coalition is willing to meet with the OPA to discuss the report, as well.

“If OPA can demonstrate that our findings are incorrect, we will publicly apologize,” Spencer said in a statement.

“However, if OPA cannot provide documentation to support its current assertions, I’m afraid that response will speak for itself.”


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