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Proceeding With Property Tax Makeover, Philadelphia Mails Out Revised Assessments

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City Hall (credit: Tim McLaughlin)

City Hall (credit: Tim McLaughlin)

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Today is the day the Nutter administration mails out more than 500,000 assessments to property owners — the first wholesale remaking of property values in Philadelphia in many years.

Still to come are debates over the actual tax rate and what relief should be provided to longtime residential owners.

“They’re going out. People will see them over the weekend or possibly Monday,” said Mayor Nutter of the nearly 580,000 new assessments for every property in the city.

These are not bills, just assessments, the administration stresses, and the tax rate still has to be set by Nutter and City Council.

“(We) strongly discourage folks from trying to use the current tax rate multiplied by their (new) assessed value. That would just be wrong,” the mayor advised.

The mailing of the assessments is a major step in the move to what’s called the Actual Value Initiative.

“We’re trying to create a fair and equitable system, where everybody pays their fair share,” Nutter said.

But “fair share” is in the eye of the beholder, of course, and Nutter will now launch a months-long debate with City Council over what the tax rate should be for these new assessments.

A related question is whether to offer a homestead exemption, and at what amount.  That exemption would benefit residential owners but could boost the amount paid by commercial property owners.

Councilman Bill Green has proposed eliminating the homestead exemption so everyone essentially pays the same tax rate.

“The best rate is the lowest possible rate if you want to retain businesses and residents,” he said.

Mayor Nutter had lobbied the state for authority to use a homestead exemption, but he is not immediately rejecting Green’s proposal.

“I’ve been a supporter of having a homestead exemption for Philadelphia for a long, long period of time. But, having said that, a different bill has been introduced. We’ll see what the conversation is,” Nutter said.

That conversation will ramp up after Mayor Nutter delivers his budget next month.

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