At a press conference yesterday, members of the Crosstown Coalition of Taxpayers, representing twenty-one civic groups from all over town, held a press conference at City Hall denouncing the Office of Property Assessment‘s performance in assessing Philadelphia’s 579,000 properties.
Like the Controller’s office, the CCoT recently embarked on a thorough examination of OPA’s data, and reached several disturbing conclusions:
- OPA claims that the coefficient of dispersion (essentially a number that accounts for margin of error) for AVI is 13.9% and within the industry standard of 15%. The CCoT found this margin of error to be several factors higher.
- The most expensive homes are generally underassessed, and the least expensive homes are generally overassessed
- Land that abated properties sit upon is generally underassessed, with land under Center City condo buildings woefully underassessed
- The largest office buildings are underassessed by 15-30%. This error pushes millions of dollars of tax burden from large commercial property owners to residential property owners
- In building the model to calculate AVI figures, OPA chopped Philadelphia into 650 different Geographic Market Areas (GMAs). This is considered far too many for a city of this size, and likely had a negative impact on the quality of the data
- Depending on the part of town, vacant land is either dramatically underassessed or dramatically overassessed
What does City Hall have to say?
Several members of City Council joined the CCoT at this press conference, indicating that at least some of the City’s decision makers understand the importance of these findings. According to NBC10, the Mayor’s Office believes that the CCoT used “incomplete and inappropriate data to get their figures.” Hey Mr. Mayor, the data that they used came directly from OPA, and OPA has repeatedly refused to meet or provide any additional data. So… just how far can this administration bury its head in the sand on this issue?
More to come…