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 firstname.lastname@example.org