Transparency comes unevenly to hulking institutions.
In a move that showed how far it’s come with its open data efforts, the City of Philadelphia launched an app that allowed users to calculate their new property assessments and estimate how their taxes could change in 2014. But the process by which property owners can appeal those assessments is less clear.
Request a review here. You must request one by March 31.
To date, there’s no information about how to appeal your property assessment on the website for the Board of Revision of Taxes (BRT), the agency that will eventually hear the appeals, as the Philadelphia Daily News first reported. (For you city trivia buffs, yes, many of the responsibilities of the dysfunctional BRT were transitioned to the Office of Property Assessment, where the above review link is located, but these hearings account for one process by which this agency still remains.)
If you want to appeal your property assessment, you’ll have to request an informal review from another city agency, the Daily News reported, the OPA.
The BRT’s website is glaringly outdated, the Daily News pointed out, with its “most recent news” dating back to 2010.
Compare that to a newly-redesigned city websites, like that of Parks and Recreation, where you can download relevant permits and applications. It’s not clear if the BRT’s site is on the city’s list to redesign and is simply on the waiting list or if it’s been overlooked because of the agency’s strange status (Philadelphians voted to abolish the BRT in 2010).
Here is the uneven transition: the OPA, which helped lead the citywide property reassessment, has a fairly modern website, with the information necessary for property owners to appeal their assessments. But the BRT, with a long, muddled reputation and a zombie grip on this major undertaking, isn’t quite as reflective of the city’s new found embrace of web communication.
In the battle of OPA and BRT, of new and old in city government, the question will be who will ultimately win out.