Mayor Nutter and City Council leaders came out of a long discussion yesterday about problems at the Board of Revision of Taxes with this conclusion: There is still more talking to do on the issue.
That clearly frustrated at least one Council member, Bill Green, who circulated to his colleagues yesterday a draft of legislation to "abolish" the BRT and start over with two new city agencies.
Green, who met with the Council leaders after Nutter spent nearly two hours talking with them, later said that he decided to hold off on submitting the legislation in today's Council session.
Nutter said after his meeting that no decisions have been made on BRT reform, a hot topic in City Hall for five months now, and more discussions are coming.
"It is a very important but complicated process," he said. "And it is important that it is done right and well, but certainly at the same time with a sense of urgency."
Nutter said that it would be "premature" to predict when action will be taken to reform the BRT.
Green complained that Nutter is moving "too slow on everything," not just the BRT reform.
"We need to start actually doing things rather than talking about them," Green said.
For now, at least, Council's leaders are siding with Nutter.
"We want to make sure that whatever we do, we do it well, because I don't think we'll ever get another opportunity like this again," Council President Anna Verna said after the meeting.
The BRT appraises properties in the city for tax bills and also hears appeals on those bills.
Abolishing the BRT would require approval by city voters.
Council Majority Leader Marian Tasco and Minority Leader Brian O'Neill said that a ballot measure could be in place for the May 2010 primary election, raising the possibility that BRT reform won't come by the end of this year.
The BRT was thrust into the spotlight in May after an Inquirer series detailed mismanagement, political patronage and inaccurate property assessments at the agency.
Nutter quickly demanded that the BRT's seven-member board resign. The board, appointed by the city Board of Judges, refused.
Nutter and Council then had staff members work together during the summer to draw up a report on how to reform the BRT.
Green's draft legislation would get rid of the BRT and create a new Office of Property Assessments in the city's Finance Department, taking over in 2011 the role of determining property-tax assessments. That office would be led by a chief assessment officer, appointed to a five-year term by the finance director with Council's approval. A new Board of Property Assessment Appeals, appointed by the Board of Judges and also approved by Council, would hear tax appeals.
Green in May submitted similar legislation, along with a second bill that would keep the BRT mostly intact but give the mayor and Council the power to appoint the agency's board members.
Green yesterday said that there is "no clear consensus on Council" about which approach to take.
"I think we need to introduce something and hold hearings," Green said. "Because nothing is happening until we do that."