By Mike Dunn

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)  —  Today is the final day that Philadelphia homeowners can ask for an informal appeal of their new property assessment, and confusion over those figures still is rampant.

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That appeal — called the ‘first-level review’ — must be requested using the form included with the assessment mailing.

It’s too late to mail the form, as it must have a March 30th postmark. You can, however, drop the form off today at Room 167 of City Hall, or at the concourse level of the Municipal Services Building. But don’t worry: whether you ask for this review or not, you may demand a formal appeal before the BRT — and the deadline for that is not until October.

Two other locations to drop the form are the mini-City Hall offices at Hope Plaza, 2761 N. 22nd Street, and the Northeast Municipal Services Center, 9239 Roosevelt Boulevard (rear entrance).

With confusion rampant over those assessments, city officials have held several outreach meetings to answer questions… and allay fears.

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Most of those who wanted help were longtime residents, many elderly:
q: You got your new assessment?
a: Yes I did.
q: And does it make it sense to you?
a: No it don’t. Because I’ve been in this house for 42 years. How am I going to pay? I’m tripled. So I don’t know how I’m going to pay. What are they going to do if I can’t pay? Put me out on the street? And we’re senior citizens who’ve been there for years and years.

Others turning out at the meetings were certain only a lucky few will benefit by the new assessments:
Senior citizen: It’s the people up in the offices making hundreds of thousands of dollars, making deals behind closed doors. Starting with our mayor.
q: Do you understand the tax rate is not determined yet?
a: Rule of thumb is that taxes don’t come down. Rule of thumb is that they usually go up.

City Council and the mayor may not settle on a tax rate until June. The first level reviews are meant only to determine if the assessment is on the mark… or out of whack. The assessments will affect tax bills that are due in 2014.

The mayor has said that the change will be revenue neutral, meaning it will bring in the same amount of revenue ($1.2 billion) as the current fiscal year. But this past week the School District requested an additional $60 million from the city, and that will now become a major part of the debate among council members and the Nutter Administration. The School District receives 60% of property tax revenues.

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