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Open Thread: How should Philly address the property assessment problem?

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After several major changes in the past few months, we want your thoughts

A row of Federal-style brick rowhomes. Photos by Dan Robnett for Keller Williams

The issue of Philly property values has dominated a lot of the headlines over the past few months, all following an independent audit released in January that revealed problems with the way assessments are conducted.

But the problem goes back a lot further than this year.

It started back in the spring of 2018, when the Office of Property Assessments (OPA) released their annual list of assessments that showed an average 10.5 percent increase in property values across Philly. The news shocked a lot of residents and City Council members, who called for an independent audit of the office.

The audit, published online two months ago, showed problems with OPA’s methods: 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.

Several major developments have happened in the two months since.

First, the mayor’s office decided to suspend major property reassessments until OPA can implement changes to bring its office up to date. Then, in February, City Councilman David Oh proposed a bill to replace the highly scrutinized assessments with those from the previous year (though that bill would have to be passed before the end of March to apply to the assessments in question). Finally, following a call from City Council members for a restructuring at OPA, the city published a job search for a new OPA Chief Assessment Officer.

Amid all of the changes regarding citywide property assessments, we wanted to turn the mic over to you: How do you think the city should handle the issue? Should they aim to replace the head of OPA and hire new assessors, as Council President Darrell Clarke suggested? Maybe you think Philly should more closely examine how assessments are handled in other cities. Is the decision to suspend major property reassessments enough? Or do you support Oh’s proposal to replace the questionable assessments with those from the previous year? Maybe you have some questions of your own.

Ask, answer, and tell us your thoughts in the comments below.