Philly City Council might subpoena for property assessment methodology

Philadelphia City Council might use its subpoena power to answer a burning question about property taxes.

Council members like Kenyatta Johnson, D-2nd, want to know the methodology the Nutter administration used to calculate new property tax assessments. He and others believe they’re grossly inaccurate for some homes.

“Five houses in one block in my district are assessed in the aggregate of $3.2 million less than they sold for in the last few years,” Johnson said. “One house sold for $1.4 million in 2012 but [the Office of Property Assessment] assessed it at $700,000.”

Council President Darrell Clarke says if the Office of Property Assessment doesn’t provide its methodology, council will use its subpoena power.

“We want to know what formula was used, we don’t want to hear the traditional ‘it’s industry standards.’ We want a detailed account of the individual process basis that they got to these numbers. We have seen some consistent inaccuracies in a lot of these assessments across the City of Philadelphia.”

A spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter says the administration will give council the information without a subpoena.

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