Blight will spread
Most neighborhood activists will tell you the longer a vacant property sits unoccupied, the more vulnerable it becomes to vandalism and decay – and the more likely surrounding properties will experience similar decay and destruction. It’s a known fact that left unchecked, blight will spread block by block until the whole neighborhood is engulfed and eventually destroyed.
Long-term uncollected property tax delinquencies are a major factor in creating blight that leads to property abandonment – never mind the impact on the city’s finances when an estimated $300 million in delinquent taxes remain uncollected for the last five years.
Philadelphia is often cited as a bad example of what happens when a local government fails to implement effective and fair property tax collection. A number of one-time stable neighborhoods have been destroyed because Philadelphia does not adequately collect delinquent property taxes, nor does the city move quickly to sell tax delinquent properties at sheriff’s sale.
With new legislative tools available, we can begin to fight blight and reclaim some of our lost neighborhoods and put these properties back on the tax rolls. Under my legislation, Act 153 of 2013, Philadelphia can now create a land bank, which is a governmental or nonprofit entity that acquires, holds and manages tax foreclosed, abandoned properties. The main purpose of a land bank is to return vacant, abandoned and tax delinquent properties to productive re-use in accordance with local and regional plans for smart growth and development. Additionally, I am working with Rep. Chris Ross, a Republican from Chester County, to enact HB 1409, which will modernize and streamline collection of delinquent property taxes, by centralizing all five state laws currently used to collect delinquent due taxes, in one location. We know times are tough and good people can’t always pay their taxes on time. We’ve taken that into account by balancing the rights of timely taxpayers with consideration for folks who have run into hard times.The goal is to ensure that accounts are paid and paid on time, but with options for hardship cases to enter into monthly payment agreements. While it is not the easiest of problems to fix, modernizing the way Philadelphia deals with blighted, vacant, tax delinquent properties will benefit all of us and improve the overall quality of life for thousands of Philadelphians.
State Rep. John Taylor (R-177th dist.)
Happy anniversary to the Turkish citizens
There is just a little updating that should be added to the glowing vision that was Turkey, provided by letter writer Semiha Gordesligil.
Since the death of Ataturk and the rise in power of Islam, Turkey has been moving steadily backwards from a free and open society toward becoming just another oppressive Islamic-ruled failure of a nation.
Recently, the head of Turkey’s intelligence agency gave the names of 10 operatives in Iran who were working with Israel to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
All 10 have been executed. Turkey’s president, who is spearheading Turkey’s descent into the dark ages of Islamic rule, stated he stands behind the head of the Turkish intelligence agency. As result, the world is in more danger, and the NATO allies are wondering more and more if they can still trust Turkey.
Recently, the U.S. decided not to sell Predator drones to Turkey for fear that our technology might be given to our enemies.
President Erdogan has worked diligently to unravel the mutually beneficial ties that Ataturk forged with Turkey and Israel. Turkey is now becoming just another threat to Israel and Western civilization.
Turkish women, who were liberated and able to contribute to Turkish society, are now being forced to walk around in hijabs and are being marginalized like women are in Islamic-ruled societies
Turkey was instrumental in sending ships against Israel’s blockade of Gaza, which is in place to stop weapons from getting to Gaza. Israeli authorities asked Turkey to dock in an Israeli port first so the ships could be searched for weapons, and Turkey refused. The ships were boarded at sea and people died.
So happy anniversary to Turkey. It’s a shame that Turkish-Americans couldn’t have done more to prevent their beloved Ataturk’s Turkey from becoming just another failed and oppressive Islamic regime.
An update on AVI
I’m here to report on four first level reviews that the Office of Property Assessments has just completed under the actual value initiative program. All four properties are located in Northeast Philadelphia. I am a real estate broker with 37 years of experience and my adversaries at OPA are considered the experts with the final say. They have created a market value formula and they are the only ones who have the keys to unlock the methodology.
Case 1: 3100 block of Levick Street which is a 3-bedroom row home in need of total rehibilitation. OPA’s value is $112,000, my opinion is $65,000. An inspector from OPA viewed the property and told me they will not change the value even though I had grounds for a substantial price adjustment. I received a letter from OPA after that inspection and it stated upon further review and analysis, the value is appropriate and should not be changed.
Case 2: 6200 block of Frankford Avenue. A small obsolete commercial office/store building appraised by a state certified appraiser with a value of $90,000 as of the date of December 2011. OPA’s value is $150,000. Again, I received a letter stating that they reviewed the file and aren’t changing their assessment. I called OPA to voice my displeasure and was told they never reviewed the documents I provided nor made a physical inspection and will not reopen the file.
Case 3: 900 block of Tyson Avenue which is a strip of small stores. OPA says $461,500 even though the last store that sold on the block last year was $135,000. OPA did adjust the value to $182,100, an 153 percent decrease.
Case 4: Cottman and Frankford. Commerical building, with a parking lot. OPA’s value is $827,100. Upon further review, the city did lower the value to $626,900 which is a 32 percent decrease. These cases are an indication of a random flaw but a major defect on how the system was implemented. The process must be deemed fair and accurate for all property owners in the city of Philadelphia regardless of any appeal process. The burden to get it right lies with the city, not the property owner. These four cases demonstrated that OPA may have over inflated many of their 2014 property assessments due to a mathematical equation with six years of time-adjusted data. OPA has disclosed that they were 100 percent right on 87 percent (24,693 reviews, 21,529 with no change) of the first level reviews they completed. No compromise at all, that is impossible to comprehend. Recent past sales is the method the appraisal industry uses to determine fair market value in most cases and that will be the method the Board of Revision of Taxes will use. This will be a level playing field for all parties involved.
Why sell the ships?
Our whine about strappe-for-cash government sold the USS Forrestal, the Navy’s first supercarrier, for 1 cent. Yes, a penny; you read it right. The ship is 1067 feet long with a displacement of 60,000 tons. Current price for scrap steel? Five to 10 cents a pound.
The Navy sold her to a Texas company, All Star Metals to be dismantled and scrapped. The company plans to tow her from the shipyard here in Philly to Brownsville, Texas. All Star paid this pittance based on the cost of moving and dismantling it, and the value of scrap it will yield. I guess selling her to a scrap company at market value in the area never occurred to the feds. For the sake of argument, let’s say they get 40,000 tons of usable scrap and sell it at the lower price. They make 4 million dollars gross. If it costs half of that to tow and tear it down then they still make 2 million. Don’t forget that the Obama administration with its shrewd business sense made that whole penny. At that rate, the Feds can clear out all the decommissioned ships and probably make at least five bucks. We owe China hundreds of billions and this administration is selling ships for a buck to scrap yards? China is one of the biggest buyers of scrap metals in the world today and the American government is sitting on billions of tons of outdated, decrepit and decommissioned ships, planes, tanks, and other junk military equipment. No, let’s just raise the debt ceiling and borrow more from China.
Stop downgrading Mayfair, please
A Realtor is quoted in a recent philly.com article telling prospective home buyers that Bensalem was “a step up from Mayfair” and that Bensalem as a whole “is an improvement over Philadelphia.”
We feel that opinion is a desperate attempt at scare tactics to boost sales in a down market.
We do understand the reasons people move out of Philadelphia; we are not blind to the changes in our neighborhood and our city as a whole, however many of us choose to stay to work to improve the neighborhood where we have family history, strong ties and a sense of civic responsibility. We do not disparage those citizens who have chosen to leave an area for their own personal reasons. It would not be fair to judge different situations, just as we ask you not judge why we stay.
A seasoned Realtor wouldn’t feel the need to stoop to negative tactics, and, instead, highlight the positives in whatever neighborhood or town he or she is trying to sell properties. Why mention Mayfair specifically if not to personally target the area?
Here is a list of positives about Mayfair:
• Mayfair Civic Association
• Mayfair Business Association
•Mayfair Community Development Corporation
• Mayfair Town Watch
• Mayfair Clean-up Committee
• Mayfair Fallen Heroes Run
• Mayfair May Fair
• Mayfair Farmers Markets
•Mayfair/Holmesburg Thanksgiving Parade (37th year)
•Mayfair Memorial Playground rebuild
• Mayfair Easter Egg Hunt
• Mayfair Halloween Spooktacular
• Mayfair Halloween Decoration Contest
• Mayfair Christmas Decoration Contest
• Mayfair Christmas Village
• Mayfair Christmas Tree Lighting
• Pennypack Music Festival
Mayfair and Philadelphia have many positives and we at the Mayfair Civic Association, Mayfair Town Watch, Mayfair Clean-up Committee and the Mayfair CDC are working hard as a community to continue to improve our neighborhood. We would appreciate it that, when comparing Mayfair to any other community, all real estate agents in the future would mention the positive things going on in Mayfair and shine a positive light on our neighborhood instead of trying to bring it down.
Mayfair Civic Association, President
Thank you, Rep. Brendan Boyle
The famous Janet Jackson once said, “What have you done for me lately?” We are students from Julia R. Masterman and we had an identical mindset when researching our state representative, Brendan Boyle of the 170th district of Pennsylvania. We would like to acknowledge Representative Brendan Boyle in his efforts for and understanding of the education system within our district and the state. We have experienced firsthand a lot of the problems our city faces and believe that he is a bold fighter for us. The topic of education seems to be a very important issue Representative Boyle. To pass a bill to create the Reliable Educational Assistance for College Hopefuls (R.E.A.C.H.) Scholarship, which provides an opportunity to all Pennsylvania high school graduates to receive a financial scholarship based on merit and community service to help combat the financial burden of college. We agree with his support of appropriate funding for special education. School districts should provide adequate funding for students with special needs to meet whatever needs they have so they can receive an equal education Another important bill that was supported by Brendan Boyle that we support was the requirement that all schools in Pennsylvania include education about the Holocaust and other genocides to sixth to twelfth graders. We agree that it is crucial for young people to have an understanding of the implications of the Holocaust and recognize the horrors of genocide. Boyle released a statement supporting the $45 million that Governor Tom Corbett released for the School District of Philadelphia which shows his support on the issue of education. He has been heavily lobbying Governor Corbett and his administration for the last five months to increase aid for education and with this money for the school district, though it is not a fix to the budget cuts and decisions made by Governor Corbett, it is a step in the right direction. Mr. Boyle’s views on the values of the working family and his efforts to represent them are well received by us. The value of hard work and dedication learned from his parents and the middle class have helped him gain so much support from labor organizations. He knows that many people in the nation are still struggling with financial difficulties and he will do his best to help fight for the working family. We support his sponsorship of House Bill 180 during the 2013-2014 session which prohibits the discrimination against persons based on unemployment. Otherwise known as the Pennsylvania Fair Employment Opportunity Act, it provides a fair opportunity for everyone in applying for jobs and we agree that it is an appropriate act. No discrimination should exist in the workplace or even outside of the workplace.
We hope that he will continue his support for education and the working class in our financial crisis. We hope that he will be the leader in the repair of the school district from Governor Corbett’s education cuts and continue represent the working middle class. In the future, we suggest that a focus on the funding for education will come which will help benefit education in the state and the School District of Philadelphia. A focus on funding for school supplies, utilities, and staffing would be more suitable for the situation now. We wish him luck in all of his political endeavors.
Christopher Long, Marc Shuler and Huey Tsang
Julia R. Masterman High School
Support families in need this season
This holiday season, I will be conducting a food drive to support our local food cupboards. Many families in our community struggle financially and use discreetly our local food cupboards to supplement their meals. Any organization or individual who would like to donate any non-perishable food items can do so in my district office at 19 S. York Road in Hatboro. If your organization has an accumulation of items, I can arrange for a pick-up. Just call my office at (215) 674-3755 and I will gladly arrange a collection time. Thank you in advance for your kindness to our needy families.
Thomas P. Murt
State Representative, 152nd Legislative District
Stay safe during the holidays
This is the time of year for panhandlers and people looking for drug money, and they’re on the move. I recently had three encounters and once, almost got into a fight. They want your money, and they don’t care how they get it. I have found three places where the hang out and hit the hardest. One is at the Wal-Mart at Grant and the Boulevard where they come up to your car and watch you come out of the store. The second is the Sunoco at Cottman and the Boulevard, and the third is the Wawa at Tyson and the Boulevard. They wait between the gas pumps and at the doorways. I saw one woman who was too scared to get out of her car. I didn’t know I had to pay to get into the store just to make a purchase. I think Wawa and these other places should be held responsible for the harassment to the public at their stores. Something has to be done before someone gets hurt. The police in that area should be notified and patrol these areas. Stay safe, look around you, and again, beware.
Traffic changes impede movement
I note with consternation the changes the streets department has recently made in Northeast Philadelphia. One is the left turn arrow on northbound Bustleton Avenue at Norwalk Road. In order to install this arrow which accomodates about 12 cars an hour they have made southbound Bustleton Avenue at Norwalk Road a “no right turn on red” light, stopping about 60-100 cars from turning. I have lived in this area for over 50 years and in that time I have seen an accident at that intersection. The other light is southbound on Haldeman Avenue at Red Lion Road where they have installed a “no turn on red “ sign. Really? This backs traffic down Haldeman Avenue about 25 cars until the light changes. I thought the job of the streets department was to help traffic flow smoothly and safely. I’m not sure they meet either of these criteria in these areas.