OPA tells us how it figured out reassessments

The Of­fice of Prop­erty As­sess­ment late last week pos­ted on its web­site the meth­od­o­logy it used to ar­rive at the prop­erty val­ues re­cently mailed to homeown­ers.

The much-re­ques­ted ex­plan­a­tion of OPA’s re­as­sess­ment for­mu­las, used as part of the Ac­tu­al Value Ini­ti­at­ive, is 15 pages long, and it is by no means light read­ing.

It con­tains such ex­pres­sions as “qual­it­at­ive vari­able ad­just­ment,” “stat­ist­ic­al mod­el­ing sys­tem,” “ad­just­ment coef­fi­cients,” “re­gres­sion mod­els,” “straight line time ad­just­ment,” “splined time ad­just­ment tech­nique” and “sales val­id­a­tion.”

To read it, vis­it ht­tp://www.phila.gov/OPA/Doc­u­ments/Prop­erty%20Assess­ment%20­Meth­od­o­logy.pdf

Pub­lic of­fi­cials, private in­di­vidu­als and civic groups all com­plained that OPA had not re­vealed the for­mu­las it used. Dur­ing a City Hall meet­ing in mid-April, mem­bers of the Crosstown Co­ali­tion of Tax­pay­ers com­plained that they had asked for this in­form­a­tion three times, but had not re­ceived it.

Walt Spen­cer, who leads the ana­lys­is team for the co­ali­tion of 22 neigh­bor­hood groups, said any­one with a math­em­at­ic­al back­ground in as­sess­ments would be able to un­der­stand the OPA ex­plan­a­tion, but people without that ex­per­i­ence prob­ably couldn’t.

What OPA did is build 14 dif­fer­ent for­mu­las for spe­cif­ic areas of the city. OPA de­term­ined the value of a house that rep­res­en­ted an area. It would then add and sub­tract value to homes based on that rep­res­ent­at­ive house. For ex­ample, Spen­cer said, value would be ad­ded for each gar­age space.

As of April 23, more than 47,000 prop­erty own­ers had asked OPA to re­view their new as­sess­ments, said Mi­chael Piper, the OPA’s deputy ad­min­is­trat­or. That’s more than double the al­most 22,000 that re­ques­ted re­views by the end of March.

AVI is the first real es­tate re­as­sess­ment the city had done in dec­ades. City of­fi­cials have main­tained that AVI, which uses 100 per­cent mar­ket val­ues to com­pute taxes, is fairer than the cur­rent par­tial value sys­tem.

For those who didn’t re­quest re­views, or for those who don’t like first-level re­view res­ults, the next step is to file an ap­peal with the Board of Re­vi­sion of Taxes.

Only about 50 ap­peals have been filed so far, BRT’s ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or Carla Pa­gan told City Coun­cil on April 23. But, it’s early, she said.

 The dead­line to file an ap­peal is Oct. 7. By then, she said, BRT could have 10,000 ap­peals, or as many as 45,000 to 50,000. ••

Re­port­er John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or jloftus@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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