BRT says it may lift property assessment freeze

Now back in charge of the Board of Revision of Taxes, Chairwoman Charlesretta Meade told City Council Wednesday that the agency would revisit a freeze on property reassessments announced by the Nutter administration last year.

Meade said the board remained committed to the Actual Value Initiative, a sweeping plan to overhaul the city’s real estate assessment system that would generate new and in many cases radically different property values for every parcel in Philadelphia.

In December, the Nutter administration — which by agreement with the BRT had taken day-to-day control of the agency for a six month period beginning last fall — proclaimed the property data that AVI relies on to be “garbage.”

The BRT let the joint agreement lapse earlier this month, enraging Nutter and putting the agency’s board back in control of both property assessments.

“All I can say right now is I have a strong belief that we can take action sooner as opposed to later,” said Meade, referring to the Actual Value Initiative as she testified at a council budget hearing. “The board’s intent is to review this issue.”

The board may not have much time.

On May 18, voters are scheduled to approve or reject a charter change that would permanently abolish the BRT and replace it with two new entities within a matter of months. The BRT has challenged the scheduled charter change in Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Yet the pending vote was not mentioned once during Thursday’s budget hearing. Indeed, Meade and City Council both acted as though the agency is here to stay.

After the hearing Mayor Nutter told reporters that a prompt move to the Actual Value Initiative would be “a disaster.”

“We have an extreme amount of concern about the credibility of the current numbers and process,” Nutter said.

Meade and other Board of Revision of Taxes members who attended the hearing declined to answer any questions from the Inquirer following the meeting.

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