Poll: Philadelphians believe new property tax system is less fair

A poll conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts reveals that Philadelphians are unconvinced that the Actual Value Initiative (AVI), Mayor Michael Nutter’s overhaul of the city’s property tax assessment system, will benefit Philadelphia. 44 percent of respondents say that AVI makes property taxes less fair, according to the poll, while only 26 percent of respondents said the new assessments are more fair.

Researchers at Pew conducted the telephone survey in July and August, surveying a total of 1,605 city residents. That survey was also the source of an earlier Pew report showing that Mayor Nutter’s approval rating had dropped, as had City Council’s, and that Philadelphians are generally glum about the direction of the city.

Among the other findings of the poll:

  • 67 percent of residents said that AVI will not change the likelihood that they will stay in Philadelphia. 8 percent said it would make it more likely for them to stay, and 22 percent it would make them less likely to stay.

  • 65 percent of respondents favor lowering the wage and business taxes in Philadelphia as a way to create jobs, while 26 percent oppose lowering those taxes.

  • Only 33 percent of respondents favor raising property taxes to offset losses from lowering business taxes, while 59 percent oppose raising property taxes.

  • 41 percent of respondents favor higher taxes and more services, while 50 percent favor lower taxes and fewer services. The ratio is reversed from last year, when 49 percent favored higher taxes and more services, with 42 percent favoring lower taxes and fewer services.

The report contains another, perhaps more surprising statistic: only 52 percent of residents surveyed had even heard of or read about AVI. That means that a story that all but dominated the city’s major news outlets off and on for more than a year only reached slightly more than half of Philadelphians. The percentage of homeowners who had heard of AVI was higher, at 73 percent.

“In this poll, as in past surveys that we have done, we asked questions about a wide range of major city issues at the same time—including the school funding crisis, the mood of the city, attitudes toward the mayor and council, and several other topics that we have been studying,” said Larry Eichel, project director for Pew’s Philadelphia Research Initiative. “We may poll the city again in the early part of 2014. If we do, we will certainly follow up and ask about AVI.”

Read the poll report here.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal