Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has to decide this month whether to approve legislation increasing the pay for the seven members of the Board of Revision of Taxes, only a few years after he fought to slash their salaries.
A 2009 series by the Philadelphia Inquirer uncovered evidence of incompetence and cronyism in the agency, which both determined property-tax assessments and heard their appeals. The state Supreme Court later ruled that the BRT would live on and hear appeals, though it would no longer make assessments.
Fast-forward to today, and there’s a backlog of more than 21,000 property-tax appeals following last year’s citywide reassessment by a new city office.
City Council passed a bill last week that would reinstate all the BRT members’ annual salaries to $70,000. As a result of various Council resolutions and lawsuits, their pay currently ranges from $150 per day to $70,000 annually.
Councilman Mark Squilla, whose constituents in South Philly have seen their property taxes skyrocket, sponsored the legislation. He said a higher salary will encourage BRT members to “work harder to get these things done,” referring to the backlog.
“Right now the main concern is to have the constituents have their appeal process done in a speedy and fair time,” he said. “I really believe this’ll make it happen.”
Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Nutter, would not say whether the mayor will sign off on the pay bump. McDonald has called it “unseemly” that board members appeared to be holding out for the salary increase.
In a statement, BRT chairman Russell Nigro said, “The board is happy that Council unanimously passed the repeal ordinance, and we are poised to do our best efforts with what is a very daunting task of a large inventory of cases.”