Under city's new property assessments, some taxes will rise and some will fall

Posted: February 17, 2013

The city's new property tax assessments are going to save Ben Nguyen of Southwest Philadelphia a lot of money - $2,110 a year, to be exact.

But they likely will cost Andrew Goldner, who lives in the Graduate Hospital area of Southwest Center City, $2,855 more in annual property taxes.

A long time coming, neither case is a surprise.

In the past, Philadelphia tax bills were based on assessments that were capricious and vulnerable to influence by politicians. Under the new system, known as the Actual Value Initiative, assessments are based on market values.

City officials have long said that AVI would lower some bills, raise others and leave many largely the same. Nguyen and Goldner represent the extremes of those changes.

Nguyen has lived in Southwest Philadelphia for many years. So he knew when he bought his property in the 6200 block of Lindbergh Avenue about six months ago that his taxes were too high.

His 2013 bill was $2,798.

"Around the corner, taxes are in the hundreds," he said. When he heard that his 2014 bill, the first one under AVI, would be just $688, he felt relieved.

He won't be the only one in Southwest, where the median savings for homeowners would be $179. In neighboring Eastwick the typical tax savings would be a robust $575 annually.

Those savings are based on a projected tax rate of 1.25 percent, which produces $1,250 in taxes per $100,000 of assessed value. City Council could enact protections for certain homeowners that would cause that rate to rise. The tax rate won't be final until the budget is passed in June.

In Graduate Hospital, Goldner wasn't too worried about whether he could pay his bill.

He has a good job as a software engineer, and he has watched his neighborhood prosper as young professionals like himself moved there, drawn by the proximity to Rittenhouse Square and an ever-expanding roster of restaurants.

He lives in the 2200 block of Kimball Street, where the signs of rejuvenation are everywhere - new brick facades, lights built into the risers on stoops.

His section of Southwest Center City would be the hardest hit by AVI, with a median property tax hike of $2,110.

Goldner has to pay only $369 in property taxes this year; next year the bill would jump to $3,224 on a home with a new valuation of $257,900.

Contact Miriam Hill at hillmb@phillynews.com or 215-854-5520. Follow her on Twitter @miriamhill.

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