Reform of the city's broken property-tax system moved forward yesterday, as City Council gave preliminary approval to Richie McKeithen, Mayor Nutter's pick to serve as the city's first chief assessor.

McKeithen, who currently directs property assessment in Washington, D.C., will be charged with the daunting task of setting up Philadelphia's Office of Property Assessment and developing a new assessment system.

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

The failures of the Board of Revision of Taxes were chronicled in a Philadelphia Inquirer series, which blasted the agency for its history of political patronage and inaccurate assessments.

In May, Philadelphia voters approved a plan to abolish the embattled BRT, replacing it with the Office of Property Assessment and an independent Board of Property Assessment Appeals.

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