By Mike Dougherty

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Dozens of residents filed into the auditorium at Neumann-Goretti High School in South Philadelphia to have some of their AVI questions answered at a public outreach session.

“Most people are just asking how we got to their assessment or how they can fill out a first level review or if they haven’t applied for a homestead exemption, how they can apply,” said Anna Adams, chief of staff to the finance director. “So we’re helping them do all of that.”

Adams says most of the people she spoke with agree that the new assessments are close to market value. Those people were hard to find.

“They are chasing people out of the city,” Italian Market retiree Mrs. Borodiak said. “Do without the tax abatement — that is outrageous that people pay $400 a year and they live in $800,000 homes.”

Barbara Perkovic from South Philadelphia, also retired, says her taxes will double if the assessment stands and she can’t afford it. She also has a few questions for mayor Michael Nutter.

“Why would you create a system that pushes out the people who care about their homes? Why would you make it impossible for people who are retired to live some kind of a decent life?”

She wants the city government to run more efficiently and for officials to stop spending millions of dollars on projects like the Dilworth Plaza renovation.

The tax rate has not been set yet. It could be anywhere from 1-percent to 1.34-percent. Tax attorney and property owner Craig Sokolow urges residents to write their councilperson demanding the lowest rate possible. He also wants the city to try a different approach for tax assessments.

“If you’re going to live in your property, your taxes don’t go up,” Sokolow said. “Whenever you sell your property, whatever you sell it at, the assessment goes up to that amount.”

He says this idea would eliminate guesswork in assessments and the new owners would be on the hook for the new tax bill, not retirees who can’t afford it.

There will two one-hour town hall meetings by phone on March 11 and the 27th as well as several more public outreach sessions.

For more information on dates, times and phone numbers, visit

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