RUST HAS SEEPED through the weathered, salmon-colored paint on the bars covering my basement window.
My chocolate-brown, wafer-thin storm door clatters every time I open it, and the railing on my deteriorating stoop is pocked with holes.
But I'm not going to fix those blemishes on the facade of my South Philly rowhouse. Not yet anyway, in part because I want to be a tax-dodger.
Now that dozens of property assessors are traversing the city to determine the "actual value" of every property, I plan to delay any
visible improvements. That's because I have a sneaking suspicion that once those assessors and their judging eyes come knocking, my property taxes are going to go through the roof (which also needs work).
One reason I bought a place five years ago in the East Passyunk neighborhood was that the property taxes were so low. I was able to afford a slightly bigger house - still only two bedrooms - because my tax bill was less than $800 a year. After one minimal reassessment a few years back and a couple of recent tax hikes, I'm paying close to a grand.
I'm terrified that because the neighborhood has boomed, the new restaurants, strollers and potted plants surrounding me will cause my bill to double, or even triple.
So, for the next six months, or however long it takes the city to get around to me, I won't answer the door to knocking strangers armed with potentially dangerous clipboards. I will leave my blinds closed and I'll keep the tilting porch light off - anything to deter the stalking city worker who will stick it to me when I least expect it.
In the meantime, my kitchen, at the back of the house, is coming along nicely.