Phila. Lawmakers Urge Eligible Property Owners To Apply For Homestead Exemption
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By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — City Council members say their own analysis of new property assessments points to the great need for relief measures for those hit hardest by rising property values.
Council staffers pored over the hundreds of thousands of new property assessments and produced their own massive analysis of the AVI overhaul.
The broadest finding is that 70 percent of homeowners will likely emerge relatively unscathed, facing either a tax hike under $400, or none at all.
City Council majority leader Curtis Jones says more than anything, the Council AVI analysis may calm the nerves of many homeowners.
“We’ve had a lot of misinformation out there, and I think that’s the biggest thing that this report clarifies. There were doom-and-gloom predictors out there from the very beginning that had people scared. Now that this report is out, we hope that people have a better sense of where they stand individually, and where the city stands as a whole,” he said.
But Jones says that even with those 70 percent faring well, that still leaves many others.
“It’s been, for 70 percent of the taxpayers of Philadelphia, good news. But that 30 percent is hit hard,” Jones tells KYW Newsradio.
Councilman Bill Greenlee agrees.
“Those — whatever percent that is — (who will have taxes) go up very high, we still have to help. We still have to find ways to give them some relief. We’re going to work on that, and I think we’ll be successful on that,” Greenlee said today.
A key issue, according to Council president Darrell Clarke, is not only offering relief measures like the homestead exemption, but making sure homeowners make use of them.
“It requires maximum participation,” Clarke says. “It means that everybody must participate in the homestead program. There will have to be full participation for individuals who qualify for gentrification(-based relief).”
Clarke says that so far only about half of those eligible for the homestead exemption have applied.
“So we have to have a very significant and aggressive push to get people qualified for that provision,” he said.
The report is expected to be formally released next week. Council and the mayor are not expected to settle on a tax rate and relief measures until next month, or perhaps later. The city’s new fiscal year begins July 1st.