Less is more for Santucci owner

The Office of Property Assessment told Santucci owner Gene Carelli assessments on his properties have been lowered almost a half-million dollars.

Gene Carelli is a happy guy.

The own­er of the pop­u­lar San­tucci Square Pizza shops on Cottman Av­en­ue and on Tyson Av­en­ue caught a big break from the City of Phil­adelphia this sum­mer.

In March, Carelli filed as­sess­ment re­view re­quests for his two prop­er­ties with the Of­fice of Prop­erty As­sess­ment. In late Ju­ly, the OPA told him the as­sess­ments on his prop­er­ties have been lowered al­most a half-mil­lion dol­lars, sub­stan­tially cut­ting what he’ll have to pay in 2014 city real es­tate taxes.  

So, yeah, he’s happy.

“I’m pleased with the res­ults,” Carelli said in an Oct. 7 phone in­ter­view. “But I think I’m still go­ing to be pay­ing more” than this year.

The OPA knocked down the as­sess­ment on his prop­erty on the 900 block of Tyson from about $461,000 to $182,000. OPA re­duced the mar­ket value of Carelli’s shop on the 4000 block of Cottman from $827,000 to $626,000.

The mar­ket val­ues for his prop­er­ties were mailed out in the spring with every­body else’s as part of the city’s Ac­tu­al Value Ini­ti­at­ive. The first num­bers that Carelli got were “un­be­liev­able,” he said.

“Now, it’s in the ball­park,” of what Carelli thinks his prop­er­ties really are worth.

The com­bined re­duc­tions prove less is more. If you’re work­ing your air cal­cu­lat­ors to see how much the res­taur­at­eur won’t be pay­ing, it comes to more than $6,200.

Carelli’s $480,000 suc­cess story could be a les­son for oth­ers who this year or next will be ap­peal­ing their prop­er­ties’ new as­sess­ments.

“You’re deal­ing with the city,” he said. “You have to use some sort of ra­tionale.”

Carelli wanted to present the OPA with the val­ues of nearby com­par­able prop­er­ties to show his stores were over­assessed. For one shop, that wasn’t too dif­fi­cult; for the oth­er, it was tough go­ing.

It was im­possible to find a build­ing com­par­able to his Cottman Av­en­ue shop, Carelli said. However, he had an ar­gu­ment that OPA couldn’t de­fend the as­sess­ment. The build­ing had been ap­praised 10 years ago at a little more than half what OPA had de­term­ined its cur­rent worth to be.

“How could it go up so much in 10 years?” he asked.

It was much easi­er to prove his point for his Tyson Av­en­ue store. Com­par­able build­ings were as­sessed much lower, and a lar­ger build­ing next to Carelli’s had a lower as­sess­ment, too. His ar­gu­ment was sim­il­ar build­ings were not uni­formly as­sessed, he said.

And, OPA agreed.

The of­fice usu­ally doesn’t. So far, many of the roughly 50,000 re­view re­quests were denied with a cap­it­al “D,” for the most part be­cause prop­erty own­ers didn’t even try to prove their points, said Mi­chael Piper, the OPA’s deputy chief as­sess­ment of­ficer.

The bur­den of prov­ing an as­sess­ment is too high is on the tax­pay­er. Those who didn’t back up their as­ser­tions as Carelli did, did not fare well. Even those who do are not guar­an­teed suc­cess.

If Carelli hadn’t got­ten such good news from OPA, he could have ap­pealed to the Board of Re­vi­sion of Taxes to lower his as­sess­ments. The dead­line to do that was Oct. 7.

Last week, the BRT had logged in 5,500 ap­peals, ac­cord­ing to Ex­ec­ut­ive Dir­ect­or Carla Pa­gan, who ad­ded there might be an­oth­er 5,500 to put in­to the sys­tem.

The fi­nal count should be ready by month’s end, she said. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

comments powered by Disqus