City Council today gave preliminary approval to Richie McKeithen, Mayor Nutter's pick for the city's first chief assessor.

McKeithen, director of Washington's Office of Real Property Tax Administration, will be charged with the daunting task of setting up the new Office of Property Assessment and fixing Philadelphia's broken property tax assessment system.

"I'm excited. Philadelphia offers a lot of unique opportunities," McKeithen said before the largely cordial hearing.

In May, Philadelphia voters approved a plan to abolish the Board of Revision of Taxes, replacing it with the Office of Property Assessment and an independent Board of Property Assessment Appeals. A Philadelphia Inquirer series lambasted the BRT for its history of political patronage and inaccurate assessments.

The new office of Property Assessment will be put in place on July 1. The BRT will officially cease to exist on October 1.

Councilman Bill Green asked McKeithen how long it would take to develop a new set of assessments. He declined to comment, saying it was too early for him to know.

Council will still have to give final approval to McKeithen's nomination.