Thank you for your support, Councilman
We would like to sincerely thank Councilman Dennis O’Brien for sponsoring a child.
Dennis O’Brien took some time out of his busy schedule to come to the Toast of Reading benefit.
My daughter Meghan was the recipient of his generous donation.
Meghan is a beautiful young lady who attends Archbishop Ryan High School, and she is dyslexic.
Meghan and her sister Jenna both attend the Children’s Dyslexia Center of Philadelphia. The center has done so much for my girls.
Meghan struggled in school since the first grade. She started at the center when she was going into the seventh grade. She was able to get honors in her first semester at Ryan.
The mission of the center is to provide treatment, without charge, to children who have dyslexia. We are truly blessed to be able to get the help that our girls need.
The center has accredited educators to provide training.
Did you know that 25 percent of children have some form of dyslexia?
Please consider giving a tax-deductible donation to support the center.
Please send donations to the Children’s Dyslexia Center of Philadelphia, 1700 Tomlinson Road, Philadelphia, PA 19116.
If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please call 215-673-1972.
Nutter and Council are laughing at us
Congratulations, Mayor Nutter and City Council. You did it again. You suckered us into another tax increase. This time, it’s the ill-conceived actual value initiative/100-percent real estate assessments.
I know they’re supposed to be fair and transparent. Well they are not. What they are is a Robin Hood tax system to take more money away from middle- and upper-income Philadelphia citizens. But, you all knew that. Bravo for the acting performance.
With the exception of Councilmen Green and Squilla, there was little vocal opposition in Council. They can’t help it. They’re taxaholics. But now the citizens in Philadelphia are irate, and all should file appeals and consider legal action even if you think that you are unscathed. Guess again.
That is because even if the millage is set low for 2014, it will continue to rise and each year it does, your taxes will go up. Once you accept the recently mailed assessments, it will be more difficult to appeal them in the future, because the city will say you didn’t appeal in year one and the real estate market will improve and prices will go up. Also, assessments are like auto sticker prices. Would you buy a car for the sticker price? No, of course not. The more appeals, the more likely City Council will notice.
So, keep laughing Mr. Mayor and honorable Council members, because the 2015 primary election isn’t that far away and I suspect this time the taxpayers of Philadelphia will levy a new DROP program on you.
Krewstown Road Neighbors Association
Please fix the fence
Dear Mr. Mayor and Councilman O’Neill, on Feb. 19 of this year I submitted three separate service requests under the Philly 311 website. They are:
Broken Safety Fence (#2763695)
Illegal Dumping (#2763692)
Tree Limbs Down (#2763870)
As of today, none have been addressed. It is understandable that the illegal dumping and down tree limbs can be perceived as a low priority. However, as for the broken safety fence along a sidewalk that is less than 100 feet from the Stephen Decatur Elementary School, I have to question why this has not been addressed.
Thank you for your consideration of these concerns.
2 kids for welfare families, that’s it
I was thinking lately why welfare moms have so many children. So I decided it was free, paid by the taxpayers.
There should be a law that limits welfare families to just two children, and additionals would be up to the family to pay.
Welfare pays per child, plus free medical, dental and eye care. Not too bad. Also, free prenatal care when having a baby.
Welfare people get subsidized for rent in housing, and many are delinquent in their payments. A woman once said to me that it’s God’s will for them to have babies. But God does not pay the bills, it’s the taxpayers who pay and pay.
There are people who are in need of welfare, and also many who should not be, especially young girls who dropped out of school to have babies.
Someone told me lately that SugarHouse Casino is loaded with welfare recipients. I guess they need some recreation, but not at my expense.
Jerry Foglia Sr.
What have they done to Castor Ave?
I don’t understand why, when they redid Castor Avenue above Cottman Avenue and removed the islands, they put in their place left turn lanes, and in most cases a small island with a pole and traffic light right where you would expect to make the turn.
This was a waste of money and is a safely hazard.
William Charles Jamieson
Send your kids to summer arts camp
Many parents are considering what programs to have their kids attend this summer.
I have one recommendation, Portside Summer Arts Camp, at 2531 E. Lehigh Ave.
I wanted to let your readers know that the program is priceless. My daughters Brenna (10) and Denni (8) have attended the last two years. During a time of boredom for most kids, this program has filled the void. Each year my kids can’t wait to go back.
The program is set up with a great curriculum. We have done many other summer programs throughout the years, and they do not even come close.
The skills they are learning are so well rounded, learning different art techniques to dealing with bullies. I know the program is called Summer Arts Camp, but to me it’s helping my kids become amazing people. I would recommend that anyone with children send them to Portside Summer Arts Camp. The staff becomes like family and great role models for our kids.
Here is the website: http://www.portsideartscenter.org
A college education goes a long way, too
A recent letter offered a valid criticism of employers who demand college degrees for jobs that traditionally have not included such requirements.
However, in the course of fashioning his argument, the writer painted such a distorted picture of the college experience that I was moved to disabuse him of his mischaracterizations.
In May 2008, I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania; rather than an easy stroll, my journey to the graduation stage was an arduous climb.
In the course of completing my program of studies, I was engaged in a perpetual exercise of reading, writing and studying. I typed innumerable essays and witnessed more sunrises than I care to remember in the hope that my efforts would be rewarded in the future. In addition to my full course load, I worked 30 hours per week to assist in the payment of my tuition. After graduation, I was saddled with a five-figure debt.
While my experience is admittedly anecdotal, it is not unique. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 45 percent of undergraduates work while enrolled.
Moreover, college students are borrowing an average of $24,000 to fund their educations. Far from assuming no responsibility, many college students have taken on a tremendous financial burden.
These ambitious young people accept this onus because they realize the value of a college degree in a country that continues its transition from an industrial to a services-oriented economy.
The post-industrial America requires a skilled and educated workforce; thus, it comes as no surprise that the national unemployment rate for college graduates sits at 3.8 percent, whereas the rate for individuals with a high school diploma registers at 7.9 percent.
If the writer truly agonizes over the decline of the American economy, he ought to be encouraging more, not fewer, people to pursue higher education.
Tim Reilly Jr.
Artur: AVI is not fair or accurate
Trying to use my 37 years of experience in selling real estate in Northeast Philadelphia, I can’t figure out how the Office of Property Assessments (OPA) after many years developed a new valuation method that may be worse than the current system.
The homepage on OPA’s website shows two street signs crossing, one saying “FAIR” and the other “ACCURATE” with a caption stating, “IT’S ALL ABOUT FAIRNESS.” They should take this page down. I have studied hundreds of real estate parcels and found out that the new assessments are neither fair nor accurate.
The AVI numbers are simply wrong. What I am questioning is OPA’s methodology in determining land and building values.
Did they physically inspect every building and, do they have any records as to the improvement in the 575,000 units in the city? NO.
They relied on an exterior drive-by along with pictures taken from the sky.
I then think they used a dart board or the spinning wheel from the Wheel of Fortune on which they spun the wheel to see what the valuation of any given property will be.
Sounds plausible based on the amount of research I have uncovered.
We have a right to know how the process was done. We are owed transparency.
Prices on row home blocks can vary by 0 percent to 40 percent, depending on condition, upgrades, number of bedrooms, finished basements, etc. AVI has seemed to use a one-size-fits-all method on each individual row home block. Land values, I have found, are all over the spectrum.
Fair market value in my business is determined by objective facts, including which similar properties have been sold in the recent past in an arms-length transaction, where buyers and sellers have agreed on price. Computer models, which are what I think AVI used, are just that, models that are subjective, like a weather forecast
While there are very few residential lot sales in the lower Northeast, the value for residential ground can be determined by competent appraisers.
The values for lots for any given area will be in a very tight range. Unfortunately, AVI has a huge range that OPA can’t document on single parcels of land. A single row home lot, by itself, has very little value. I have the lot sales in the Northeast for 2011 and 2012. What do they have?
But, the biggest concern I have is the small commercial buildings in the Northeast. For all the talk of shopping centers and big Center City office buildings getting a tax break under AVI, just the opposite is true for commercial property in neighborhoods.
A case in point is Gene Carelli, the owner of Santucci’s Pizzeria, with two stores in the Northeast. One is at 4010 Cottman Ave., near Frankford Avenue, which was assessed in 2013 for $250,000, with real estate taxes of $7,800. Under AVI, the value goes up for 2014 to $827,100, with taxes of approximately $11,000. That’s a 40-percent tax increase. Is that revenue neutral for Gene? AVI is supposed to be that for the total revenue collected by the city for 2014. At his other shop at 901 Tyson Ave., his assessment is going up to $461,500, even though the store at the end of his strip, which is bigger, sold last year for $135,000! These examples demonstrate why this city through AVI is giving small businesses yet another reason to leave.
To appeal small commercial real estate, the owner is going to have to spend a minimum of $2,000 to $5,000. Bigger parcels will be much more expensive. That’s going to be the last ray of hope, expensive as it may be, that commercial property owners will have under this unjust fiasco.
The city is trying to play stall ball in letting the clock run out on the appeal process. AVI must be delayed again to allow time to do the assessments properly and professionally. That would also level the playing field for appeals. The system must be fair and accurate with an easy, understandable methodology, coupled with a fair rate. If a correction is not made by OPA, then a class action suit will be in order. Unfortunately, at this point, the saying, “Garbage in, garbage out,” seems to apply to AVI.