Letters: Can city show its work on AVI?

Posted: December 20, 2013

THE NEW assessment program for 2014 called Actual Value Initiative (AVI) needs to have an extensive internal investigation conducted. AVI was supposed to be fair and accurate, but it has turned out to be anything but.

The Office of Property Assessment (OPA) built a system using a mathematical formula, which almost no one understands, to determine the fair market value of all real estate in the city.

Letters were sent out by OPA last February with the city's opinion of the new assessed values for 2014. In the letter it was also stated that property owners who disagreed with the stated value could file a first-level appeal with OPA. The property owner wasn't compelled to do anything more than check off a block whether the property is assessed greater or less than its total market value and to say what the property owner thought the fair market value of their property should be on the open market. There were more than 50,000 appeals.

Now we find out from the data that OPA rejected approximately 85 percent of the first-level reviews. Some of the responses made by OPA indicated that property owners didn't support their claim with comparable sales to show why a decrease in assessed value was warranted. OPA said the burden of proof lies with the property owner.

Why should this burden be met since OPA didn't require that in the first-level review process and they hold the key to their methodology? They used an algebraic formula using sales of properties from the years of 2006 to 2012.

We, as the applicants, could possibly only use past sales of similar properties to support our assertion. These sales are referred to as "arm's length transactions" used by the appraisal industry in establishing fair market value. These were two completely different methods of determining property values, one with facts, the other with manipulative figures. Real-estate values are not an exact science.

Really, does anyone who got a rejection letter believe that OPA actually reviewed their file? And if you believe that then you must believe in the Tooth Fairy.

I can tell you that they never even did a physical inspection of the case I appealed, nor even bothered to review the pictures and documentation I provided. And to add insult to injury, they reviewed the property twice and came to the same result twice, not one dollar of adjustment.

AVI has major structural defects in the design system, even after many years of work and tens of millions in taxpayer money being wasted.

I believe the implementation of AVI should have been delayed in order to build accuracy and fairness into the system to protect the rights of property owners whether the values are too high or too low. How can government be right 85 percent of the time? That is a statistical improbability in the real-estate industry.

In this op-ed, I used this city's words to show a clear pattern of deceit. Can OPA show their work product to all of the property owners who appealed? That is the $64,000 question.

Christopher Artur

Mayfair

Eagles jersey 'morons'

I really do admire your courage to attend an Eagles game in Philadelphia wearing a Lions sweatshirt. Do you not understand the mentality of these morons who are supposedly fans of the Eagles?

If the Eagles hire players who torture and kill dogs for sport, what do you expect from the morons who attend their games? Hopefully, the police will be able to arrest the morons who attacked you, but I doubt it. It is a total disgrace that this city allows this kind of behavior - but what do you expect? It's a city that lets a policeman knock down a woman for no reason; this policeman is fired, then reinstated to his job. (I feel safe knowing this moron is back on the force.)

When the city shows others that violence is tolerated in Philadelphia and morons will be given a pass when they beat defenseless people who have the audacity to wear their favorite teams' colors, there is something wrong.

Tina Bellosi

Philadelphia

Rush, Jesus vs. pope

I must take issue with Christine Flowers' comments regarding Rush Limbaugh and the pope. The pope stated that unrestrained capitalism is evil. That is, in fact, what all communists believe.

Rush was right to call the pope a communist, if that is, in fact, what the pope believes. Capitalism is not evil. It is the solution to evil. Capitalism is what made America great, and what all Catholic charities depend on. The pope needs to understand that charity cannot be forced by government. It must be the product of our God-given free will, or it is not charity. Government control of man's free will is something that Jesus and Rush oppose, so why does the pope support it? The pontiff may be infallible in matters of faith, but in matters of free-market capitalism and economics, Rush Limbaugh and Jesus Christ reign supreme.

Stuart Caesar

Philadelphia

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