Court says Nutter can’t eliminate the BRT

    The Pa. Supreme Court decided that Philadelphia cannot dismantle the BRT even though voters abolished it in a referendum last year. The court said the BRT can stay on to hear tax assessment appeals, but the city can make the actual assessments.

    The Pennsylvania Supreme Court says Philadelphia’s agency that handles property tax assessments can continue to hear appeals. The high court ruled Monday that only the state legislature can take away that authority from the Board of Revision of Taxes.

    Last May, Philadelphia voters abolished the BRT through a referendum. The agency had come under fire for a history of patronage and corruption. It had spent millions of dollars on creating new property tax assessments only to have the results riddled with errors. The ruling keeps in place the city’s new role in establishing tax assessments. But the justices chose to re-instate the Board’s role in hearing appeals of those assessments.

    Bill Murphy, an attorney for the board members, says his clients are happy with the decision.

    “There’s a sense of appreciation for having their main issue recognized and understood and decided upon by the court, and as normal reactions go I think they’re pleased,” he says.

    Mayor Nutter says he’s also pleased because the ruling upholds the City’s right to take control of tax assessments. It’s unclear whether the legislature in Harrisburg will move to eliminate other roles for the board.

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