PHILADELPHIANS dreading what the city's new property-tax system will mean for their tax bills will get a hint of what's to come in mid-February, when the city begins mailing its new assessments to landowners.

Those notices will not specify what the tax bills will be, because City Council still has to approve a tax rate to go along with the launch of Mayor Nutter's new property-tax system, the Actual Value Initiative, which is slated to take effect next year.

What the Feb. 15 mailing will specify is how to appeal the new valuations to the Office of Property Assessment for those who feel the city overshot on them. The deadline is March 31. If, upon hearing back from OPA, you're still unhappy with the decision, you can appeal by October to the city Board of Revision of Taxes. Beyond that, residents will have to take the city to court to get their assessments changed.

AVI aims to fix Philly's problematic property-tax system, which currently bills thousands of properties based on outdated assessments, by determining the current value of every plot in the city. Nutter has said the purpose is to create a fairer system, not to raise revenue.

Many residents in gentrified neighborhoods will see a steep increase in the assessed value of their homes, city Finance Director Rob Dubow said Tuesday. Some Council members are looking into easing the burden of this spike through tax breaks that will be negotiated this spring.

The administration also said the total taxable value of properties in Philadelphia, according to the new assessments, has reached $98.5 billion, up incrementally from the past estimate. Under the current system, the total value of taxable land is about $38 billion.