BRT To Go Boom?

The troubled Board of Revision of Taxes is the hot issue up in City Council today.

Councilman Bill Green has introduced legislation to reform the BRT, which came under fire after an Inquirer series detailed mismanagement, patronage and inaccurate assessments at the agency.

The legislation would abolish the BRT by 2011 and to create two new agencies: the Office of Property Assessment and the Board of Property Assessment Appeals. It has 14 co-sponsors, in addition to Green. (Council members Rizzo and Blackwell are the only members not on board.)*

“The ultimate goal is to restore public faith in our assessment and collection of properties,” Green said.

The legislation does not change an arrangement under which 80 BRT employees are on the School District payroll -- something Mayor Nutter has outlined as a priority.

Nutter yesterday said he had not read the Green legislation.

There has been some tension between the mayor and Council over how to manage BRT reform, despite promises of collaboration on both sides.

Yesterday, Nutter announced an interim agreement with the BRT that would move assessment functions under the authority of the city finance director.

Councilman Jim Kenney expressed frustration that he did not learn of the mayor’s plan until today.

“I think part of the problem here is the lack of communication,” Kenney said. “I don’t know what is going on. I’m at a loss to know what the strategy is.”

Kenney also questioned whether there should have been a public vote by the BRT board on the agreement.

“I know the hallmark of the administration has been transparency,” Kenney said. “But I don’t know how transparent that was.”

*We originally reported that the bill had 13 co-sponsors. But Councilman Brian O'Neill added himself at the last minute, bringing the total to 14 co-sponsors, plus Green.