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Another Report Critical of AVI Coming Wednesday

A coalition of 21 neighborhood civic groups plans to release a report Wednesday critical of Mayor Nutter's property tax reform effort, and at least four Council members said they would call for the Actual Value Initiative (AVI) to be delayed for a second year in a row.

The report, compiled by the Crosstown Coalition of Taxpayers, found the citywide reassessment key to AVI had used "fundamentally flawed" methods, according to a press release from the group.

The report found a margin of error in the assessments well beyond the industry standard, and found less expensive homes typically were assessed too high while expensive homes, commercial buildings and other properties were assessed too low.

The report was written by Walter Spencer, a retired Center City resident who worked on mass appraisals for cities and counties around the country. He used property data provided by the city's Office of Property Assessment (OPA).

Council members James F. Kenney, Jannie L. Blackwell, Kenyatta Johnson and Mark Squilla plan to join the coalition and call for AVI to be delayed. Blackwell, Johnson, Squilla and the Crosstown Coalition all represent areas of the city facing the largest tax increases under AVI. Kenney, an at-large member, lives in Squilla's district.

Councilman Bill Green, an at-large member, also plans to attend the coaltion's news conference, at 4 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall.

The report would come two weeks after a study commissioned by Controller Alan Butkovitz reached similar, critical conclusions about AVI. Butkovitz, who faces a contested primary election Tuesday, also called for delaying AVI.

OPA and the Nutter administration have defended the reassessment as "professional and accurate," and well within the industry standards. They also note that less than 10 percent of property owners filed for a "first level review" to question their new assessments. The deadline for filing formal appeals isn't until October.

There also were several differences in how OPA judged the reassessment and how the Butkovitz report handled the data.

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