Philadelphia Controller concerned about new property assessments after independent report

Lots of Philadelphia homeowners question how the city’s new real estate assessments were done.

Now a highly regarded economist is joining the chorus.

Carnegie Mellon professor Robert Strauss says his research shows Philadelphia’s new assessments range from 30 percent to 800 percent inaccurate. He says problems are especially bad in minority and low-income neighborhoods.

“Moderate and low-income folks, and folks of color, compared to white folks, are being treated differentially. And to some extent, also Hispanics. … This reassessment begs for further improvement in accuracy,” he said.

Mayor Nutter’s spokesman Mark McDonald says Strauss couldn’t have done an accurate analysis of the data.

“He could not know the complicated set of assumptions and decisions that went into that process. He also used incomplete data,” said McDonald. “He was missing at least 20,000 to 30,000 properties that were not posted at that time.”

City Controller Alan Butkovitz paid Strauss to produce the report. He’s worried Philadelphia will lose millions of dollars in a flood of assessment appeals.

The city has set aside millions to cover those appeals.

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