By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — During budget hearings today at Philadelphia City Hall (see related story), an official of the Board of Revision of Taxes projected a wide range of outcomes later this year as it begins plowing through appeals filed on the city’s new property assessments.

The city received about 40,000 requests for informal “first level reviews,” during which a property owner who thinks his or her assessment is wrong will be able to question an assessor involved in the city’s reassessment program, dubbed Actual Value Initiative (“AVI”).

BRT executive director Carla Pagan (photo) told councilmembers that the informal review process should play out through August.

For those who want to pursue the matter further, she says, the BRT is preparing to receive upwards of 50,000 formal appeals by the October 7th deadline, but that number could wind up being much lower — in the 10,000 to 20,000 range.

“If the majority of those taxpayers are satisfied (after the informal review), we expect to have a much lower number of appeals filed,” she told the lawmakers.

And if the number is fairly low, she says, the appeals could take less than a year to decide.  But if the BRT receives a higher number of appeals, it could take 1½ years to go through them.

One councilman has proposed legislation that would put the property tax hike on hold until the owner’s appeal is decided (see related story).  Under current regulations, the property owner must pay the higher bill and then apply for a refund if it is lowered on appeal.