By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Last week brought the first result of the sweeping reassessment of property values in Philadelphia (see related story).   But the number unveiled by Mayor Nutter may matter little to homeowners.

Last week the mayor gave out just the first assessment figure: $96.5 billion, the new total value of all properties in the City of Philadelphia.

Kevin Gillen, of the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania, says that number has meaning only when put in perspective.

“It signifies certainly just how much Philadelphia’s real estate tax base has grown over the last ten years, since the last (citywide) assessment,” he tells KYW Newsradio.

In fact, the new total is more than twice the aggregate value currently in use.

And Gillen says this process has been long in coming.

“The fact that this is the first time we’ve done a serious reassessment in ten years or so, even with whatever inaccuracies may exist in the current numbers, they are still a significant improvement with the prevailing numbers that are on the tax rolls right now,” he says.

But that $96.5 billion total is somewhat irrelevant to individual property owners, because the increase in property values will likely vary by neighborhood, and because City Council has yet to set the tax rate.

Those neighborhood breakdowns will be released in the next two months, and the new rate will come in the spring.  And those numbers will ultimately set what tax bills look like in 2014.

Expect cries of agony from those living in booming neighborhoods.

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