Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

BRT Board: A bargain at just $500,000 a year

REPOSTED from today's print edition:

BRT Board: A bargain at just $500,000 a year

REPOSTED from today's print edition:

Last week, members of the embattled Board of Revision of Taxes sued the city in a bid to stop Mayor Nutter and City Council from disbanding the agency and its judicially appointed board.

Critics of the board, which oversees a wildly inaccurate and dysfunctional property-assessment system, characterized the suit as a gambit to preserve the members' $70,000-a-year jobs.

A regular caller reminded "Heard in the Hall" that, even if the plan to blow up the BRT succeeded, all of the agency's board members would collect paychecks until Sept. 30, when the agency would officially dissolve. With seven members on the board, that amounts to about $285,000 in compensation between now and the potential BRT D-Day.

If the BRT's suit is successful and the board members preserve their jobs indefinitely, taxpayers will shell out a collective half-million dollars a year to retain the services of the board.

That is generous compensation, given that the BRT requires only part-time service of its board members even in normal times. For the next two years, though, the board's work could be easier than ever.

Because the assessment system is so inaccurate, Nutter has called for a two-year moratorium on property assessments. That should lead to a huge drop in assessment appeals, and thus far less work for the seven appointed members of the BRT, whose chief job is to hear those appeals.

Keep in mind that "Heard in the Hall" is referring only to the seven-member board, not the agency's assessors, clerks, and other employees. They are going to have an exceptionally busy time of it in the months and years to come as they try to correct decades of poor practices.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer's Troy Graham and Claudia Vargas take you inside Philadelphia's City Hall.

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