CITY COUNCIL ISSUES RFP FOR INDEPENDENT AUDIT OF PROPERTY ASSESSMENTS

In Council News, Darrell L. Clarke, Featured, Kenyatta Johnson, Mark Squilla, News by PHL Council

Philadelphia, April 19, 2018 – The City Council of Philadelphia has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for qualified auditors of the Office of Property Assessment (OPA).

A subsection of the Philadelphia Code authored by Council mandates that OPA be independently audited at least once every three years. This will be the first audit of OPA performed to meet this requirement.

“This audit will establish the rigor and accuracy OPA’s annual reassessment process,” Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) said. “Philadelphians are rightly alarmed by the average 11-percent increase in residential property assessments released by the Administration this year, directly on the heels of Mayor Kenney’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget request of a property tax increase and transfer tax increase. The Administration has since adjusted its proposed tax increases downward, but it is imperative for the public to have confidence in the integrity of the system.”

The OPA has been required to conduct annual reassessments of property since 2013, when the Actual Value Initiative (AVI) was implemented to correct decades of inconsistent and irregular assessments. City Council also passed legislation increasing transparency and accountability requirements for OPA, on top of authorizing the legislature to initiate regular independent audits.

Qualified auditors will be required to complete a statistical analysis of the performance of appraisers and the accuracy of assessments, in order to ensure a uniform and accurate system of property taxation. In areas where OPA is not meeting expectations or requirements, auditors will provide recommendations for the Administration to implement.

“Our preliminary review of 2019 assessments revealed significant variations within single blocks, indicating that OPA’s methodology of actual value may be flawed,”  Councilman Mark Squilla (1st District) said. “We need to assure residents that their assessments are accurate. It is incomprehensible to have a 50 percent or more assessment increase in one year when OPA confirms that they assess properties annually according to actual valuation.”

“A typical, stable residential neighborhood sees annual assessment increases of two or three percent. Residential assessments in the Second Council District went up by 27 percent this year and Point Breeze assessments went up by 43 percent,” Councilman Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District) said. “This will send tax bills ballooning, often by thousands of dollars. We’ll get everyone we can into tax relief programs. But some of my constituents will have to make hard personal sacrifices to scrape together the money. Many will face the threat of losing their homes. When the stakes are this high, we owe it to the people we serve to get the numbers correct. I believe that an audit of OPA’s assessment process will help us to find any flaws and fix them.”

Vendors responding to the RFP must meet the following criteria: certification in real estate appraisal valuation by a member of The Appraisal Foundation or a comparable organization; at least three years of recent experience performing mass appraisal work for a jurisdiction where assessments are performed at least once every 10 years; and at least three years of recent experience performing assessment-sales ratio studies using standards approved by the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO).

The OPA audit RFP has been posted to the City of Philadelphia’s eContract website: https://secure.phila.gov/eContract/.

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Photo: Credit: Photo by R. Kennedy for GPTMC

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