BRT Holds Hearing on Deal to Give Assessment Power to City

The embattled Board of Revision of Taxes today held a public hearing on an agreement with the administration to temporarily hand assessment authority to the city finance department – after the city solicitor deemed that the original closed-door deal violated the state Sunshine Act.

No vote was taken at today’s hearing, which included a presentation from Finance Director Rob Dubow in favor of the agreement and comments from the public.

The original arrangement – known as a Memorandum of Understanding -- was approved by all six BRT members at an Oct. 7 meeting. But the deal came under fire for lack of transparency.

Asked about the closed door proceedings, board member Robert Nix III said: “I guess we should have [had a public hearing], but we were negotiating with the mayor’s office and it just slipped.”

Mayor Nutter today said the city was still moving ahead with assessment authority.

“As far as I know, the Memorandum of Understanding is still in effect. The board has been tremendously cooperative,” Nutter said.

Council is considering legislation to abolish the BRT by 2011 and to create two new agencies: the Office of Property Assessment and the Board of Property Assessment Appeals.

The BRT came under fire this year with a series in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which detailed years of mismanagement, political patronage and flawed assessments at the agency.