March 27: Council grills administration on AVI assessments, outreach | Open data release schedule | Germantown Ave design charrette | Julie Slavet Q&A

Happy Wednesday, Streeters. Here’s what’s making news this morning:

During budget hearings yesterday City Council grilled Office of Property Assessment officials about the precision of property assessments conducted for the Actual Value Initiative, reports PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey. Councilmembers are hearing from constituents who are up in arms over increased taxes and they complain that OPA’s complicated explanation for how it arrived at the new assessments is too confusing. Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. called OPA’s method a “wild-ass guess” and questioned why OPA couldn’t explain its methodology simply.

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell was livid that OPA officials had stopped attending AVI meetings in her West Philly district, City Paper reports. Finance Director Rob Dubow admitted that city officials started out going to meetings in the Third District, but “we did stop having them after one meeting that got particularly ugly.” That explanation went over like a lead balloon for Councilmembers who have been getting an earful from residents at these meetings and aren’t necessarily able to answer all of the questions their constituents raise.

Philadelphia now has an open data release schedule from the Office of Innovation & Technology. Technically Philly reports that the OIT schedule is an internal guide for workflow, but it’s also an attempt to provide greater transparency for the open data process. See the calendar here.

Saturday’s design charrette on two blocks of Germantown Avenue yielded ideas for grand plans and small moves to make the corridor more inviting, green, and walkable, reports charrette co-sponsor Flying Kite. “There were great ideas for short-term uses — gardens, temporary plazas for outdoor movies — and creative, art-focused uses, like an art/bus stop with a green roof that could bring energy and vitality to the area,” says Garlen Capita with Germantown United Community Development Corporation. Capita says GUCDC will start shopping around some of these ideas to local organizations and businesses.

Green Philly Blog has a Q&A with Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Director Julie Slavet, talking about the watershed’s ability to connect people across municipal boundaries and her goal of planting along the creek’s riparian buffer.

The Buzz is Eyes on the Street’s morning news digest. Have a tip? Send it along.

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