A Glimpse Into AVI Data

More than 36,000 property owners will see their tax bills increase by at least $1,000 a year under the city's proposed AVI property tax change. (Photo: Shutterstock)

The first neighborhood breakdown to emerge of the citywide reassessment shows that homeowners in the toniest zip codes of Rittenhouse Square and Center City are facing the biggest tax increases this year — an expected result of Mayor Nutter’s property tax reform effort.

But the data - compiled by Controller Alan Butkovitz’s office - also revealed that some poorer areas like North Philadelphia and Germantown could see spikes as well under the Actual Value Initiative (AVI). Check out our map here.

While those tax hikes would be modest in dollar amounts, they represented some of the largest percentage increases in the Butkovitz data.

For example, the average tax increase for a single family home in the zip code 19133, which covers a section of North Philadelphia, would go up by $383 a year — but that’s a jump of 191 percent, the largest in the city.

Butkovitz said those findings go against the conventional wisdom of AVI.

“The picture that people had was that AVI would lower the burden on lower income people and raise the burden on higher income people,” he said.

Finance Director Rob Dubow cautioned against making judgements from the data at this time.

“So many other things are going on that that conclusion might be premature,” he said.

Dubow noted that Butkovitz’s office calculated averages of tax bills and home market values, which can be skewed by small numbers of properties.

He said administration analysts typically examine median homes and the top and bottom 20 percent.

“I don’t know that an average really tells you what’s going on,” he said. “There’s lots of nuances in the data. I don’t know how they handled them.”

Jeff Hornstein, a former candidate for City Council, crunched the data for Butkovitz as his new director of financial and policy analysis.

He calculated average market values for single family homes after the reassessment in each of the city’s residential zip codes and calculated the average tax bill using a 1.25 percent tax rate - or $1,250 per $100,000 of value.

The administration has said that the tax rate would have to be between 1.2 and 1.25 percent to collect the same amount of property tax as last year - $1.2 billion.

Dubow said that number could change as values of properties are adjusted and corrected. The tax rate also would go up if Council and the administration provide certain kinds of tax breaks to homeowners.

In the Hornstein analysis, the average valued home in 13 of the city’s 46 residential zip codes would see its taxes lowered next year. Many of those zip codes cover the Far Northeast. Chestnut Hill and neighborhoods near the airport, like Elmwood, also would see lower taxes.

Most of the average increases are fairly modest in dollar amounts, though zip codes that cover Fairmount, Graduate Hospital, Queen Village and South Philadelphia east of Broad Street see average increases between $758 and $819.

The administration previously said that more than two-thirds of city homeowners would see taxes go down or increase by less than $400.

Council staffers, who are also crunching the data, also said in a briefing Tuesday that nearly $200 million of the property tax burden is likely to shift from commercial and industrial properties to residential, under the current formulas.

The administration plans to send out the results of the reassessment to every property owner on Friday.

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