State Rep. O'Brien grills Nutter administration on AVI data

State Rep. Mike O’Brien didn’t hold any punches. He wanted answers from the Nutter administration about the delay in getting City Council more detailed data on the city’s planned shift to a new property-tax system.

“Do we have gross incompetence or do we have an administration trying to stonewall and put us at a budget crisis,” O’Brien asked Rob Dubow, the city’s finance director during a two-hour long public hearing today at the National Constitution Center on four state bills aimed at providing property-tax relief.

O’Brien, who appeared frustrated, said the city met with him in June and said then that more detailed data on the neighborhood impact of a shift to a property-tax system based on market values, known as the Actual Value Initiative (AVI) would be available then.

Dubow explained that because Council opted to delay the implementation of AVI for a year that the Office of Property Assessments had to reassess some of the properties again.

“There’s not going to be a crisis,” Dubow said, adding that Council will receive data next week.

Council is getting antsy though. Shortly after the city released data in December on the total value of properties citywide, the Nutter administration said two weeks after that more information would come, but it never did. And last week during the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) meeting, Dubow said Council would get data by the end of January. Today, Dubow said the city is still putting the information together.

Meanwhile, Council president Darrell Clarke who was joined by Councilman Mark Squilla, provided testimony at today’s hearing and explained that the four state measures will be instrumental in helping Council establish protections for property-owners. (See previous story.) State representatives expressed concern about how AVI would impact gentrifying neighborhoods, efforts to collect from tax deadbeats and possibly exempt businesses.

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