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In a controversial vote, the Board of Revision of Taxes yesterday decided to put off until next year the reassessment of state Sen. Vincent Fumo's Green Street home, now on the market for nearly $7 million but on which the board has placed a market value of $250,000.

In a controversial vote, the Board of Revision of Taxes yesterday decided to put off until next year the reassessment of state Sen. Vincent Fumo's Green Street home, now on the market for nearly $7 million but on which the board has placed a market value of $250,000.

The 4-to-3 vote came on a motion from longtime board member Robert N.C. Nix III, who asked the board to reconsider that market value in light of the hefty offering price on the 27-room, four-story manse near 22nd Street.

Voting against Nix were Harvey Levin, Joseph Russo, James Dintino and Alan Silberstein. Joining Nix were board chairwoman Charlesretta Meade and the board's newest member, Russell Nigro Jr., a former state Supreme Court justice.

"I think once you identify an error like this, I don't see why we can't look at it right now," Nix said in an interview after the board meeting.

Last August, the BRT sent out about 413,000 notices of changes in property assessments, of which about 388,000 were assessment increases. About 5,000 taxpayers have appealed those proposed assessments, and hearings on those appeals are pending.

"Everything is pending at this point, and on average the increases were limited to no more than 7.5 percent, so we should have at least increased him that much," Nix said.

But Kevin Feeley, a consultant hired to speak for the board, said that although the board majority was aware of the high-profile nature of the case, "there was concern that it might be conducting a spot assessment, something by law that you can't do."

Nix said he agreed that the board should not simply make a change in Fumo's assessment because of the news media focus on Fumo's effort to sell his mansion.

Instead, he proposed that the board ask its staff to find a series of similar properties from which a more accurate market value for Fumo's home could be set.

"They would have been properties that had no increases because the computer didn't identify enough comparables, so we'd have done it manually," Nix said.

Feeley said the computer-based system used by the BRT failed to find sufficient "comparables" for a house like Fumo's. "What do you measure it against? It's not impossible, but it's not easy. The decision was to review the entire category of properties like that in the next tax year," he said.

Nix said the board's inaction reflects badly on the city's property-assessment process, already under serious attack because of the plan to move to an annual full-value system, a plan that has been delayed several years.

"Look, I think their rationale is not out of the ballpark," Nix said. "But given the environment we're in with people who have $50,000 homes and getting seven-percent increases, I think in their minds this will prove the point that the system is not fair."

Nigro said, "How do you not do something about this? It will make it look like this entire board is a co-conspirator with the senator to devalue his assessment. We have to do something."

Gary Tuma, Fumo's spokesman, said Fumo always has paid the taxes imposed on him. "And he will in the future," Tuma said.

Nigro said that when the Fumo real-estate story became public, "I said we had to do something to correct the problem because it's not justifiable to have a property assessed so much below what the owner believes his value is." Nigro pointed out that Fumo had used professional real-estate assessors to set a price on his house.

Brett Mandel, executive director of Philadelphia Forward, a tax-reform group, said the system was at fault.

"The system is flawed," Mandel said. "Every house should be valued properly, whether you are a state senator or a janitor or judge.

"The fact that the BRT's system doesn't do that and that the BRT wants to specially consider certain houses, and that people who are appealing are being told different things - some being rolled back totally, others being offered a 'deal' and others told nothing can be done - all points to the inequity."

BRT records show that the market value of Fumo's property has not changed since 2003, when it jumped to its current level from $200,000 in 2002.

The way the city's complicated fractional system works, the $250,000 market value is multiplied by a predetermined 32 percent, putting the assessed value at $80,000 and resulting in a tax bill for 2008 of $6,611.

But if the BRT set the market value at what Fumo's house actually sold for, the taxes would rise dramatically.

For example, suppose Fumo sold the house for $5 million and that became the market value. The new owner would see an assessment of $5 million x .32 = $1.6 million, and when multiplied by the city's millage rate of 8.264 percent, the new owner's tax bill would be a whopping $132,224.

"It's not whether I like or dislike Vince," said Nigro, who was once close to Fumo. "It's what's fair and equitable. I almost have to sit there and hear 5,000 appeals and tell everyone, 'You win,' because we have an inequitable dynamic going on here."