- Could the vast number of empty properties plaguing Philly neighborhoods be the push needed to create a land bank? The New York Times reports on Philadelphia’s battle with blight.
- Like many state parks, New Jersey’s Parvin State Park has a rich history. Sadly, its level of disrepair requires immediate action, according to Edward Colimore.
Tag: property taxes
A tax abatement — an exemption from paying taxes on a property for a given number of years — seems like a pretty terrific perk. Who wouldn’t want an abatement? But the notion gets complex in neighborhoods “in transition” — places where property taxes are going up for longtime residents and new construction for new residents comes with an abatement in place.
The abatements also complicate the school funding picture, as they reduce the amount of money that goes to the District.
FRIDAY IS THE FINAL DEADLINE FOR THE HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION APPLICATION.
If you don’t know what we’re talking about, allow us to channel the City of Philadelphia for just a moment (including its awkward capitalizations):
What is the Homestead Exemption?
The Homestead Exemption offers Real Estate Tax savings to all Philadelphia homeowners by reducing the taxable portion of their property assessment by $30,000, starting in Tax Year 2014.
Should residents still have questions about the changes to their property taxes, the City will try to clarify matters during the course of two Telephone Town Hall meetings hosted by city officials. This is a great opportunity to take the mayor at his word:
“Our Administration has been working diligently to ensure that every citizen understands the changes at hand and participates in the relief measures available to them, especially the Homestead Exemption. These Telephone Town Halls, like the information sessions earlier this year, are critical to creating a dialogue and keeping the public engaged.”
True, the numbers are still execrable: As of April 2013, the city is owed $522 million in delinquent property taxes–which far exceeds the $50 million price tag the School District requires. The notion of reclaiming such delinquencies is depressingly fantastical, but there is good news. As Patrick Kerkstra writes:
For the first time since Mayor Nutter took office in 2008, the rate of growth on the delinquency debt slowed sharply. The city also has made notable gains in reducing the total number of delinquent accounts, from 102,787 in April of last year to 97,310 in April 2013.
We especially like the word “sharply” there. Keep it goin’.
The choices, realistically, were current City Controller Alan Butkovitz and challenger Brett Mandel. They had significant differences of opinion about many things, but they both drew especially stark lines in the sand regarding the Actual Value Initiative (AVI), the city’s property reassessment program meant to correct years of preposterously incorrect property values.
Butkovitz was extremely critical of the plan, and recently paid an outside consultant almost $30,000 to assess the assessments. That consultant found that the process was carried out with good intentions but ultimately ineffective. Butkovitz made great hay out of this result prior to the election, which made some in the media suspicious of his motivations. After all, that almost $30,000 was paid for by the taxpayers.
Last week we reported that City Council–having repeatedly asked the mayor and the Office of Property Assessment to detail how it came up with the new property assessments–finally got an answer in the form of a 15-page document (embedded below). Chief tax assessor Richie McKeithen warned Council that it wouldn’t make sense to anyone other than…well, him, maybe. But it seems some Council members read it anyway, including David Oh, who feels it’s incomplete.
“It’s kind of like providing a recipe on making a salad, and generally saying ‘you chop up some vegetables, you mix em together and throw some dressing on it.’” said Oh. “You can’t duplicate that. We need to be able to verify what was done in order to verify it’s within acceptable standards of assessments.”
The 8th District (above), like all Council districts, is oddly shaped and includes disparate neighborhoods–everywhere from 22nd and Allegheny to Stenton and Hillcrest avenues. Represented by Cindy Bass, the 8th owes $94,151,727–the most of any of the 10 districts.
This is where all the AVI action goes down: the Curtis Center. Photo: Bruce Andersen via Wikimedia
Let’s start with the bad news about Philadelphia’s never-ending property assessment saga: Richie McKeithen, the city’s chief assessor, says that out of the approximately 31,000 appeals the city’s received, “a huge number” will not result in reduced assessments for those who filed.
Now the good news: Only 31,000–according to McKeithen–filed, which means the other 548,000 city property owners did not ask to have their new assessments reviewed.