DESPITE OBJECTIONS from the Nutter administration, a City Council Committee approved a bill yesterday that would allow anyone contesting a new property assessment under the Actual Value Initiative to pay the old tax bill until the appeal is resolved.
Officials contended that the measure could open the door for a wave of frivolous appeals by those who simply want to avoid paying a possible higher bill under AVI, the city's new property-tax system.
"It will provide an incentive for any and everyone to appeal their assessment," said budget director Rebecca Rhynhart, equating the offer to an interest-free loan.
The bill's sponsor, 1st District Councilman Mark Squilla - who represents Center City and South Philly neighborhoods where taxes will skyrocket under AVI - disagreed.
"If we're talking about fairness and accuracy, which is the goal under AVI, do you think it's fair for someone to pay a tax bill on an assessment that isn't correct?" Squilla asked.
The measure would only apply to property owners who filed timely appeals with the Board of Revision of Taxes and are up-to-date on their taxes. Council could approve it as early as June 6.
Also yesterday, the Crosstown Coalition of Taxpayers released its analysis of AVI, detailing flaws found in the new system. According to the analysis, expensive homes and large commercial buildings are underassessed, while less expensive homes are overassessed. The report also said that the margin of error is several times greater than what the city has said it is.
The group has said it would like to meet with city officials to discuss the findings.
Officials said the city stands by the reassessments.