BRT Delivers 'Actual-Value' Numbers To Mayor & Council

As we told you in today's Daily News, the Board of Revision of Taxes is dropping in the laps of Mayor Nutter and City Council the potential results of a controversial change in the way the city taxes property ownership.  You can read the BRT's news release after the jump.



Values submitted to Mayor and City Council as next step in “Actual Value Initiative”

Committed to state-of-the-art valuation that will provide accurate, equitable and uniform property assessments across every Philadelphia neighborhood, the Board of Revision of Taxes today submitted to Mayor Nutter and City Council the proposed actual market values for more than 577,000 residential and commercial properties citywide.

For the first time in the modern history of the City, property values in Philadelphia would be based on actual market value – that is, based on a property’s projected worth on the open market. The new values, developed by the BRT following months of data collection and analysis of all 577,780 residential and commercial properties in the city, and completed with the assistance of recognized independent local property tax experts, mark a major next step in the development of a fairer and more uniform property tax system in Philadelphia. BRT officials noted that to date there is no plan to use these numbers as the basis for FY2010 property taxes in Philadelphia.

“We believe that these new values meet the national standards for accuracy, equity, and uniformity in property valuation,” said Kevin Keene, the BRT Assistant Administrator who spearheaded the project for the agency.

“Our analysis indicates that these values have made substantial improvements towards greater accuracy, equity, and uniformity,” said Dr. Kevin C. Gillen, a leading local property tax expert from Econsult Corp., hired by the BRT to review the new values, which were developed as part of BRT’s “Actual Value Initiative” that began more than three years ago.

“I've assisted the BRT in creating statistical models that will help the BRT develop current accurate values for properties across all geographical areas of the city,” added Dr. Forrest E. Huffman, Professor of Real Estate and Finance at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, who also assisted on the project. “We're pretty pleased with the results so far. However, everyone should recognize that these models will require periodic updating and refinement as markets change.”

The proposed new values – the first ever to be developed with the help of the City’s new, $4.4 million Computerized Mass Appraisal system (known as the CAMA system) – were submitted to allow Mayor Nutter and Council members a first opportunity to review the data. BRT anticipates making the new values available for public review in the coming weeks, once the Nutter Administration and Council members have an opportunity to review them, so that citizens can offer comment and ask questions about the values.

“We have taken the time to develop property values that will be easier to understand, fairer, and more uniform than ever before,” said BRT Chairwoman Charlesretta Meade. “We hired outside experts to work with us in developing the values, and we are very encouraged by the hard work that has been done by our BRT staff and the experts to assure their accuracy.

“The entire focus of the BRT is to set accurate, fair, and uniform values,” Meade said. “That is all we do. We do not set tax rates or develop tax policy. Our job is to set values for all commercial and residential properties in the city as fairly, accurately and uniformly as possible, and we believe that the Actual Value Initiative will achieve this goal.”

BRT has said publicly that it anticipates working with the Mayor and Council to implement the Actual Value Initiative after the passage of legislation aimed at providing “buffers” or a phase-in period to ameliorate possible spikes in valuation across various city neighborhoods.

“We intend to work cooperatively with the Mayor, City Council, and our state legislative leaders to assure that the Actual Value Initiative is implemented with full public input on these important issues,” Meade said. “Just as we have said with respect to the development of these values, the idea is to get it right.”

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