Philadelphia Office of Property Assessment struggling to complete its job

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 (Tom MacDonad/WHYY)

(Tom MacDonad/WHYY)

When Philadelphia overhauled property tax assessments in 2013, it meant having to re-evaluate every home and business.

The city agency doing that work is struggling to do the job.

 

Philadelphia’s Office of Property Assessment needs to fill more than three dozen positions, and has been having a hard time finding qualified individuals. OPA Chief Assessment Officer Richie McKeithen said his office can’t re-assess every property in the city without making those hires.

“We have most recently as two months ago gone before the civil service commission and spoken with them, we’ve worked with the HR department about things we can do to invoke a more intense hiring hiring process. We’ve looked at salaries we’ve looked at revising qualifications to get more people in.”

McKeithen said low salaries and requiring new hires to live in or move to Philadelphia are causing trouble. However McKeithen told Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown the latter is less of an issue now that an exemption was approved.

 “We met with the civil service commission and the result of that was that we got the ability to have people move into the city 10 years after they accepted a position.”

Another issue is handling appeals from people who think their homes have been over-valued while also working on three thousand properties that still not have been assessed. McKeithen told Councilman Kenyatta Johnson his office will be continuously reviewing assessments, especially where values are growing.

 Other officials testified that it could take another year before all property assessment appeals are resolved.

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