A bill introduced by three Council members Thursday would require the city’s Office of Property Assessment to make available a full explanation of its methodology and post details of individual assessments on the city’s website.
The bill’s requirements are based partly on the practices of the property assessment agency in Washington, D.C. OPA’s chief assessor, Richie McKeithen, came to Philadelphia in 2010 from Washington, where he led that city’s property assessment office.
“It is important to give the taxpayers of Philadelphia confidence their assessments are fair, accurate and transparent,” Council President Darrell L. Clarke said.
The bill also would authorize Council to hire an independent firm to audit OPA every three years.
The bill comes in the wake of months of complaints from the public and from elected officials about OPA’s inability to explain how the assessments were conducted. Two independent reports released this month have questioned OPA’s numbers and assertions of accuracy.
Councilman Bobby Henon, who introduced the bill along with Clarke and Councilman David Oh, said the legislation would hold OPA “to commonsense standards of transparency.”
“During numerous Council hearings, OPA’s inability to explain its own assessment methodology was almost comical. But no one in City Council is laughing, and certainly homeowners who are perplexed by their new assessments are not laughing,” he said in a statement. “This bill holds OPA to commonsense standards of transparency. Philadelphia taxpayers deserve a more complete explanation of their bills than a math formula you need a Ph.D. to understand.”
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