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City seeks replacement for OPA head after property assessment controversy

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An audit released last month revealed issues with OPA’s methods

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After a Council-backed audit last month revealed multiple problems with the Office of Property Assessments’ (OPA) methods, it seems the mayor’s office is looking for a change.

The city recently posted a job listing for Chief Assessment Officer of OPA online, calling for candidates with ten years of appraisal and assessment experience. The position has been held by Michael Piper since 2014, but City Council has not voted on another term for Piper, Philly.com first reported. A spokesman for the mayor’s office told the newspaper that Council’s wish to find a replacement prompted their national search.

The news is the latest in a long saga surrounding OPA, which started when the office released a shocking property assessment last year that showed an average 10.5 percent increase in values across Philly. In response to the assessments, Council hired an independent firm to conduct an audit on OPA’s methods, which was released last month.

The audit showed several flaws with the way OPA conducts assessments: The assessments weren’t uniform; they did not meet industry standards for homes from one to four families, commercial, and industrial properties; and plots under $100,000 were overassessed, according to a statement from council and the audit itself.

The City Council audit was followed by another independent audit from City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart’s Office, which revealed “similar findings” regarding issues with OPA’s methods.

Following the audit, Council president Darrell Clarke called for large-scale changes to OPA, including a new Chief Assessment Officer and four new deputy assessors. He also suggested the office contract with a mass appraisal firm to improve their accuracy.

  • Philly looks to replace embattled chief assessor amid outcry over property assessments [Philly.com]
  • Philly home values spike 10.5 percent in new property assessment [Curbed Philly]
  • Audit finds flaws in OPA’s methods for conducting property assessments [Curbed Philly]