ABOUT 54 PERCENT of Philadelphia property owners paid higher real-estate taxes this year, the debut of the Actual Value Initiative reform effort, than they did the previous year, according to city Finance Director Rob Dubow.

Fifty-seven percent of commercial properties had higher tax bills, as did 54 percent of residential properties, Dubow said.

If everyone who is eligible enrolled in the new "homestead exemption" tax break, which deducts $30,000 from city assessments for primary residences, then 30 percent of residential properties would have seen decreases.

About 70 percent of eligible owners have signed up, and Dubow said the administration is still encouraging homeowners to apply.

Under AVI, which Nutter championed and pushed through a hesitant City Council, the city reassessed all 579,000 properties in Philadelphia to clean up its deeply flawed tax rolls.

Although AVI was designed to be revenue-neutral in its first year, a primary concern for Council was whether it would cause residents' overall share of the tax burden to increase in relation to commercial property owners.

To keep residents' bills down, Council adopted the homestead exemption and a "gentrification relief" program for low-income residents who owned their homes for at least 10 years and saw their taxes triple.

The Daily News requested the information on the tax bills, which were due in March, for three months. Dubow provided the figures yesterday after being told the newspaper planned to publish a story on the administration's reluctance to release them.

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