Council Quiet After AVI Briefing

Administration officials held two briefings today for Council members and their staffs on the latest numbers from the Actual Value Initiative (AVI), Mayor Nutter’s property tax reform, which is slated to come online later this year.

After the first briefing, Council members emerged tight-lipped about what they were told — a far cry from previous meetings on the subject, when some apoplectic members predicted that AVI would lead to all manner of disaster.

“I feel better than we thought we were going to feel,” said Councilman William K. Greenlee, who left the meeting with Councilman James F. Kenney.

Neither would divulge what had soothed them about the once controversial property tax plan. Kenney said he wouldn’t provide “a specific number of any kind.”

“It was actually a very good meeting,” he said. “Very productive, very open.”

Councilman Mark Squilla, who last year introduced a bill that eventually delayed the implementation of AVI by a year, provided the only hard news - the aggregate value of all property in the city now stands at $98.5 billion, with appraisers still checking about 5,000 buildings.

Mayor Nutter is seeking to collect the same amount of revenue from property taxes this year - about $1.2 billion — as last year.

In December, when the aggregate value stood at about $96.5 billion, Nutter said the tax rate would have to be between 1.3 to 1.4 percent of a property’s actual value to reach that goal.

As the aggregate value goes up, the tax rate would inch down. Where it settles remains to be seen and depends on a number of variables, including what kind of homestead and other tax breaks are provided to homeowners.

Some Council members said they didn’t want to make predictions until individual owners learn this month what the city thinks their properties are worth.

Every property owner should know their assessed value by March 1. At that point, the administration and Council can begin to determine AVI’s impact more fully.

They’ll also begin to get an idea of how accurate a job assessors did in tagging a value to the city’s 579,000 parcels.

The administration has promised more briefings next week on how the numbers are shaping up in certain Geographic Market Areas, which are tiny slices of individual neighborhoods.

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