Philadelphia homeowners wasting no time calling council about property assessments

On Philadelphia City Council’s first working day since city property owners started receiving new assessments in the mail, lawmakers are getting an earful. 

First District City Councilman Mark Squilla says he’s not surprised the phones in his office are ringing off the hook since, in some cases, replacing outdated assessments with current market values can double a home’s value.

“Phones, e-mails, letters. Everything you can imagine, our office has been receiving,” said Squilla. “Most of it is a fear of what their taxes are going to be how high it’s going to be and also, if the assessments are actually correct.

“I believe there are some flaws in the way it’s being done,” he continued. “We have some neighborhoods that are dramatically being increased while other neighborhoods are seeing what they believe are fair values or actually under-valued.”

Clarke plans outreach effort

Council President Darrell Clarke says he will hit the road to help explain the assessments to residents.

“We’ve been receiving calls since last year,” he said. “We will have a series of meetings in my district. This process is early on. I don’t think we should be premature in terms of determining what the actual tax bill will be, what the rate will be whether homestead will take place within this process.”

Lingering questions

Squilla says he’s seen places where the real numbers don’t appear to match up with the numbers provided by the Office of Property Assessment (OPA).

“We have some properties that actually have sold for $40,000 and $50,000  that have assessments for $200,000. So, we just need to get some answers from OPA before we can make any decisions moving forward,” said Squilla. “Unless they can come up with some solid answers, I think they have a lot of work to do to fix this situation.”

OPA is offering an extensive appeals process for people who aren’t happy with their assessment.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.