Your AVI (Actual Value Initiative) Handbook / Playbook
We all know that it is looming, that dark unknown cloud coming to your neighborhood - the AVI - where real estate taxes will soar to help fund the ailing Philadelphia School District and the hapless City Council folks who cannot think of any other way to fund the City's budget woes and bankrupt City. I have created a handbook or in the spirit of football season, I have created a Playbook, if you will, of how this game will be played out.
Before I begin, let's all try to get to our happy place. Take several deep breaths. You are going to need some tools: a yoga mat, a hot cup of tea, Jack Daniels, and a valium. Oh, and keep your handbook (and your checkbook) ready for the months ahead. One last thing. Have your go-to attorney ready on speed dial because alttorneys will be busy with lots of appeals.
So what is going to happen ?
1. In December of this year, property owners will get their tax bill for 2013. Don't get too worked up. You can relax as this bill will be based on pre-AVI assessments. (Deep breath in. Deep breath out. It's a good time to grab your yoga meditation mat.)
2. Around that same time, you will get a notice of your new "AVI" assessment. This is the basis for calculating your 2014 bill, which will arrive later in the year. This is the time where you can call your Realtor and ask "Is this accurate?". If not, call your "go-to" attorney which you already have since you read this playbook and begin your appeal process immediately. Have your attorney on speed dial as he or she will be flooded with calls. (Better boil the hot water for that calming cup of tea now.)
3. Now that you've done the Yoga, sipped your tea, head for the bar for that shot of JD. While you are there, call your doctor for that prescription as you wait for City Council to finalize the tax policy as they will set the milage rate (tax rate) and they are not going to be fast about it. Once that rate is set you can actually determine your tax bill for 2014.
4. And most importantly, while you wait patiently on your bar stool, set up a bank account and put money aside so you can budget this increase. This will help ease the pain. Perhaps cutting back on your own excesses - such as the dreaded soft drinks, basic food and water and the like, will be a good idea so we can all pay for the sins of Philadelphia, such as Carl Greene and Arlene Ackerman.
If you are still sober at this time, we can watch how this brilliant plan will effect the real estate market, rents of tenants and the local economy. And pray as several unintended consequences such as property values depreciating, rents escalating and local neighborhood commercial districts suffering in order to fund the budget woes of the City of Philadelphia occur. More properties will go into foreclosure and there will be more tax sales when and if the City ever gets around to collecting the taxes due. And of course, new construction and the hated tax abatements will be even that much more in demand versus the row home across the street whose taxes were just hiked 5X. Brilliance at its best! Remember it is important to not ask Council Members to "DROP DROP" as that is far too important for them to keep with our taxpayer money as they are doing such a great job.
Lastly, we can hope and pray that the City will act more fiscally responsible and that our services will increase and be more efficient after our taxes are hiked. For many, their taxes will be hiked 5X so maybe their services will increase 5X as well? We can only hope so. If not, maybe we can all plan for another AVI in 2016 and do it all over again?
In the meantime, brace yourself, do your yoga and deep breaths in order to prepare, especially if you live in Northern Liberties, Fishtown, Old Kensington, South Kensington, Fairmount, Art Museum, Chinatown, Loft District, Queen Village, Old City, Center City, Rittenhouse Square, Fitler Square, Graduate Hospital, Point Breeze (this area might be protected), South Philly, Passyunk Square and Pennsport or any area that "gentrified". I am sure I am missing a few spots but heck, we have been told it only affects a few areas by our City leaders.