Former State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo’s palatial Spring Garden mansion nearly quadrupled in value under the city’s new property assessment system.
Philadelphia’s assessors now say the 27-room Victorian brownstone is worth $2.6 million, up from just $675,000 under the old system.
The new assessments don’t take effect until 2014, and it’s still not clear what the tax rate will be. But if the city taxes properties in 2014 at 1.32 percent with a $15,000 homestead exemption, as Mayor Nutter has proposed, Fumo’s tax bill would rise from $21,105 to $33,673.
With Fumo still completing a 5-year federal sentence on fraud and other charges, it’s impossible to know whether he will appeal, but he has done so before. This time around, he might have to weigh the decision with his son, Vincent E. Fumo, and fiancée, Carolyn Zinni, who recently became co-owners of the property with him.
Fumo’s mansion played a cameo role in the controversy over whether the city’s assessment system was fair. In 2008, the city valued the property at just $250,000, even though Fumo at the time tried to sell it for as much as $7 million.
The low assessment fed the perception that the Board of Revision of Taxes, which assessed city properties before the recent property-tax overhaul, was vulnerable to political manipulation. Public outrage over the $250,000 valuation spurred the BRT to reassess the property at $953,500. Fumo appealed that reassessment to the BRT but lost and appealed to Common Pleas Court.
Court documents shed little light on why Fumo and the city settled the case, but in June 2012, the two parties agreed that the mansion would be valued for tax purposes at $675,000. The settlement also said the city would refund any overpayments that resulted from the higher valuation.
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