Northeast Times

Many values are fair, but there are exceptions

City of­fi­cials say the Ac­tu­al Value Ini­ti­at­ive’s aim is fair­ness. The re­as­sess­ments prop­erty own­ers have been re­ceiv­ing since mid-Feb­ru­ary are sup­posed to be what own­ers would get for their prop­er­ties if they sold them now.

State Rep. Kev­in Boyle (D-172nd dist.) be­lieves 97 per­cent to 98 per­cent of the as­sess­ments are just that — fair.

“But there are cer­tainly some ex­cep­tions,” Boyle said in a March 1 phone in­ter­view. 

He said he has heard of a May­fair row home as­sessed at al­most $300,000.

Re­altor Chris Ar­tur said he re­searched as­sess­ments and com­pared the new ones to sale prices in May­fair and found av­er­age as­sess­ments more than $40,000 high­er than av­er­age sale prices. 

An­oth­er ex­treme ex­ample, former Great­er Bustleton Civil League pres­id­ent John McK­eever told the North­east Times, is a re­ten­tion basin on the 1900 block of Re­illy Road owned by the Grand Man­or Homeown­ers As­so­ci­ation. 

The par­cel, used to slow wa­ter run­off, is smal­ler than an acre and has a 2013 mar­ket value of $2,000. The value for tax­a­tion on the prop­erty un­der the cur­rent sys­tem is just $640. For 2014, the city has as­signed a $122,900 mar­ket value to the prop­erty, ac­cord­ing to the Of­fice of Prop­erty As­sess­ments’ on­line re­cords. 

This is land that really has neg­at­ive value, City Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill (R-10th dist.) said on March 1.

“It’s a li­ab­il­ity for the homeown­ers as­so­ci­ation be­cause they can’t sell it,” he said.

If the as­sess­ment re­mains un­changed and taxes are figured with the rate most fre­quently men­tioned — $1,250 per $100,000 of mar­ket value — the tax on what es­sen­tially is a big puddle would jump from $62.53 to more than $1,500.

The good news is it’s easy enough to fix if it’s in­cor­rect, OPA Deputy Ad­min­is­trat­or Mi­chael Piper said in a March 1 phone in­ter­view. There could be an er­ror in one of the com­pon­ents used to ar­rive at the as­sess­ment. He sug­ges­ted the homeown­ers as­so­ci­ation file a first-level re­view so OPA can re-ex­am­ine the as­sess­ment.

The form for that re­view ac­com­pan­ied each re­as­sess­ment no­tice the city mailed in mid-Feb­ru­ary. The dead­line to re­quest a re­view is March 31. 

Rep­res­ent­at­ive Ed Neilson (D-169th dist.) said he knows of homes that sit back-to-back in Park­wood whose as­sess­ments dif­fer by $20,000. He also said he knows of homes with­in the same block that have large ad­di­tions but are as­sessed with­in $5,000 of the homes that don’t. The own­ers of the homes with the ad­di­tions, Neilson wrote on Feb. 28, feel their as­sess­ments should be high­er.

“Homeown­ers need to do re­search to be cer­tain that the value is cor­rect,” Neilson said. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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