Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Butkovitz: AVI assessments worse than current system

City Controller Alan Butkovitz on Wednesday released an analysis of the recent citywide property reassessment and found that the new numbers are less accurate than those in the current system.

Butkovitz: AVI assessments worse than current system

City Controller Alan Butkovitz.
City Controller Alan Butkovitz.

City Controller Alan Butkovitz on Wednesday released an analysis of the recent citywide property reassessment and found that the new numbers are less accurate than those in the current system.

Butkovitz, who has been a vocal critic of Mayor Nutter’s Actual Value Initiative, AVI, from the get go, paid tax expert Robert Strauss $27,500 to examine the new assessments. Strauss, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, said Wednesday that the accuracy of the assessments were well below industry standards and that the city used incomplete data and insufficient resources to complete the reassessment.

He called AVI “a story about well-intentioned policy change but not effective implementation.”

Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald said that Strauss did not consult the city Office of Property Assessment while conducting his study.

“The author could not have known the complicated set of assumptions and decisions that went into the process,” he said.

Butkovitz’ findings, McDonald said, “have to be seen for what they are - a $27,000 dollar report that comes out a few weeks before a city controller runs for reelection.”

Butkovitz’ study used data from the first 557,000 property assessments. Another 22,000 have been assessed since, which McDonald said could have contributed to the difference in findings.

You can read the controller’s study here.

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Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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