City Council flooded with AVI complaints, some want to phase in switch

City Council
Rikard Larma/Metro.

As budget season approaches, the City Council debate is again heating up over the switch to AVI – the Actual Value Initiative of property tax assessments under which real estate taxes will be based on properties’ true market values, rather than on a predefined rate.

After several rounds of contentious negotiations last year, the Mayor Michael Nutter-backed measure didn’t make it through Council. Members indicated they would pass the measure this spring after receiving more information about the kind of numbers their constituents would be seeing on their retooled property tax bills.

But today, at least two Council members said they still held reservations about the way the overhaul is moving forward.

 

Phase it in

 

City Councilman Mark Squilla thinks that, because the city is treating the switch to the AVI system of property tax assessments as an ongoing process requiring continued day-to-day adjustments, residents should also be eased into the overhaul.

“If AVI is a process, then the implementation of it should be a process,” he said.

That’s why Squilla introduced a bill at City Council today that would over a period of four years gradually phase in the changes in property taxes residents must pay, should AVI come to pass.

“When speaking to the [Office of Property Assessments], they say most appeals they’re getting are for parcels that are over-assessed,” Squilla said.

“Therefore, they will be concentrating on correcting properties that are over-assessed this year. They informed us that next year, they will look at all the properties that are undervalued or under-assessed to raise them to what the assessment should be.”

He said that, since it will apparently take the OPA years to correct errors or inaccuracies in property assessments, residents shouldn’t have to pay their full tax increases – or decreases – all at once, either.

“Since this is going to be an ongoing process for years to come, I believe the fairest way to do it – if Council takes the approach to move forward with AVI – is to implement this over a time period,” he said.

Squilla wants “to make sure the people who will be most dramatically affected because of mistakes or under-assessments or over-assessments will not have to pay for one year for what the city has done – or not done – for 10 years.”

 

Educate the people

 

Councilman Kenyatta Johnson thinks education and transparency are two key components missing from the property tax overhaul. He plans to use his own staff to assist residents of his district, but is encouraging the administration to extend that effort in a bid to help more citizens understand exactly what’s going on.

“Throughout this week, my office has been receiving numerous calls from constituents about AVI,” Johnson said. “An alarmingly high number of these constituents have received assessments which seem wildly inaccurate.”

He said a Graduate Hospital resident recently led him on a tour to illustrate some of the inconsistencies.

According to Johnson, one 860-square-foot, two-story non-rehabbed house was assessed at $455,000 by the OPA. “This tiny, two-story house is worth more than a huge, 2,500-square-foot three-story house, currently assessed at $280,000 but listed on the market for $625,000,” he said.

“Although I have a masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania in government administration and public finance, I’m not an expert property appraiser,” he continued. “But something about his process seems fairly inaccurate. I have been receiving these types of calls all week, so I am calling on the administration to explain why we are seeing the disparities.”

Johnson said he is forming an AVI response team to make sure his constituents in the 2nd Councilmanic District understand the process. Accounting students from Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania will ensure residents apply for all the relief measures available to them, according to Johnson.

“This is an issue we will continue to aggressively address as we go throughout the process of addressing AVI and making sure the process is fair and accurate,” he said.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.