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
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.