Minutes08 Nov 2012 09:39 am

Minutes from November 5, 2012 PSCA General Meeting @ SPOAC

Meeting began at 6:37 pm, ended at 7:45 pm. Attendance: Approximately 45.

Board Members Present: Zenzola, D’Ippolito, Anton, Morris, Emma, Fioretti, Knox.

Board Members Absent (excused): DiCapua, Geary, Knapp, Wilder.

Welcome and Introductions: Pam Zenzola introduced the Board and had attendees introduce themselves to new neighbors.

Food Sponsors: Thanks to Acme for donating the cookies and water.

Committee Reports:

Zoning: Pam Zenzola read the cases to be heard by the zoning committee next Tuesday Nov. 13 at 7pm at SPOAC. These include:

 1.      Wharton Street Lofts, 12th and Wharton (2nd appearance): Proposal to turn the former Annunciation BVM School into rental apartments with ground floor use(s) such as retail and/or office space.

  1. 2.      1410-12 S. 7th Street (2nd appearance): originally requesting variance for 2nd story addition on existing one-story building for a total of 10 dwelling units with 8 parking spaces, no open space, and no rear yard. Awaiting revisions from architect. Committee requested larger units, fewer total units, more open space for tenants (roof decks), and more sensitive design for neighbors on Beulah St. Located in R10-A zoning district.
  2. 3.      614 Annin Street: legalization of existing 2 story rear addition with roof deck. Refused for open area and rear yard min. area in R10-A district.
  3. 4.      1216 Reed Street: requesting a variance for a 2 story addition with roof deck and cellar. Extension of an existing variance requires zoning approval. L4 zoning district.
  4. 5.      1420 S. 9th Street: requesting a variance for a 3 family dwelling (existing?). Refused for use in R10-A zoning district.
  5. 6.      1331 S. Alder Street: Refused for open space.

Events: Pam Zenzola noted the great success of the annual home tour, and thanked all the volunteers, sponsors, and homeowners who made it a great event. Upcoming events include our Xmas Tree Sale at Urban Jungle on December 1, from 2-6pm. Volunteer Gary Tumolo is looking for volunteers to sing carols in a chorus, either from 2-4 or 4-6, or both. Our December general meeting on Dec. 4 will be, as in previous years, a Holiday Potluck, but this year with an emphasis on bite-sized appetizers and hosted at Theatre Exile at 13th and Reed, as organized by volunteer Michele DiVeterano.

Planning: Karin Morris reported that the 30 “Welcome to Passyunk Square” signs will be installed, weather-permitting, on November 7, 2012!

Trash and Recycling: Carmela Fioretti announced that the last Clean Up Day on Oct. 27 was great, and thanked all the volunteers. The next event is e-waste recycling on Nov. 17 at the Acme from 10-2, followed by treecycling in early January, date TBD. Also, PSCA has now signed a street cleaning contract with ABM to clean those streets not covered by the PARC cleaning crew. More details about this service will be shared on Facebook.

Beautification: Andrew Emma announced that our next tree planting is Nov. 10, in collaboration with PHS, the Phillies, Parks and Recreation, and Aramark, among others. A short program with speakers will begin at 9:30am at Capitolo, followed by tree planting at 10am. Planting volunteers are needed, and should bring gloves and a shovel if you have them. Also, please RSVP to beautification@passyunk.org to let us know you are volunteering. UnderDogs, the new hot dog shop, will offer special deals for volunteers after the planting. Applications for the spring tree planting have already been submitted, but we are now taking applications for next fall’s planting. Love Your Park will take place on Nov. 17, with various activities at our local parks. Sarah Anton reported that Passyunk Gardens will be closing up for winter on Nov. 17 as well.

Parks: Pam Zenzola mentioned that park activities can be found on their respective websites. One to note is Columbus Square’s Holiday Party on Dec. 15. Nicole Hostettler is looking for someone to take over Friends of Gold Star Park, as she will be stepping down at the end of the year after many years. The Park has a master plan, a website, flyer templates, and documentation on past events that Nicole can share with a new leader. In general, the park does summer concerts, an annual Halloween party, and clean-ups. The new leader can do as little or as much as they have time and inclination to do.

Communications: Cassie Knox had two announcements: 1) our texting service for PSCA announcements is currently down, as the website that hosts this is currently down; 2) to receive all of the PSCA’s Facebook posts in your newsfeed, hover over the “liked” button and add the page to your interest list.

Neighborhood Ambassador Program (NAP):  Angel D’Ippolito reported that 15 volunteers have signed on to be Ambassadors, and their next meeting is Nov. 14 at 7pm at Columbus Square recreation center. Their pilot task is to knock on doors on their block and invite neighbors to our Holiday Potluck, and distribute packets about PSCA. NAP is in need of volunteers who speak Taiwanese, Vietnamese, and Chinese, in particular (Spanish being covered).

Fundraising: Pam Zenzola mentioned that our annual appeal letter will be mailed near the end of November. Also, you can now donate to PSCA through United Way.

Presentation: Four representatives from Philly’s Office of Property Assessment (OPA)—Richie McKeithen, Anna Adams, Marissa Waxman, and Jay Devine—spoke about the city’s Actual Value Initiative (AVI), to take effect in tax year 2014. The city will be moving to a new formula for calculating property taxes, based on the actual assessed value of your home (what it would sell for in the open real estate market), not the current system that applies the tax rate to 32% of the assessed value of one’s home. At the same time, the current tax rate of 9.771% will decrease to account for this change to actual value assessments. This new formula is mandated by law and is the industry standard for calculating property taxes.

OPA has been collecting data for the reassessment process, and has 579,000 properties to re-assess. They will be analyzing data by neighborhood and by similar home sales data, for approximately the last 5 years. This market data will take into account the flattening of the market over the last few years. They also look at permits for work done on homes recently to assist them in assessing value. The point of AVI is to make property tax assessments equitable and understandable, which they have not been up to this point. It is a revenue-neutral initiative, meaning OPA has not been asked to bring in more revenue for the city. Rather, they are leveling the process and correcting inequities in the way some properties are over-assessed and some have historically been under-assessed.

Homeowners will be receiving their new assessed value information in February 2013, to take effect in tax year 2014. These statements will be mailed by February 15, 2013. If you have applied for the Homestead Exemption (flat amount of $30,000 deducted from your new assessed value) that should appear on your statement in February 2013. If it does not, you have until July 2013 to file another application for the exemption. Applications are still being accepted right now, until November 15, 2012 and can be found online at www.phila.gov or by calling 215-686-9200.

Once you receive your new assessed value statement in late February 2013, you have the option to appeal the actual assessment value through a first level review through OPA, by returning the first level review form by March 31, 2013. (This is new for OPA to hear appeals, previously it was only the Bureau of Revision of Taxes (BRT) that heard appeals.) 

The tax rate (by which your new assessed value will be multiplied to get your annual tax bill) is set by City Council and the Mayor, and that new dramatically lower rate for tax year 2014 will be set by May 31, 2013. 

It appears that there is a Formal Appeal with BRT deadline of October 7, 2013, for homeowners to offer last appeals before the tax year 2014 bills are mailed in December 2013.

The speakers mentioned that there are other relief programs besides the Homestead Exemption, such as a senior low-income exemption; a state rebate on rent if eligible; and possibly gentrification relief (though this has not been enacted yet).

In future years, OPA will also be responsible for re-assessments to account for fluctuations in the real estate market, whether up or down.  

Numerous questions were asked by attendees regarding the re-assessment process, the policy effects of moving toward an actual value property tax system, and what effects this might have on neighborhoods that have rapidly risen in value, etc.

A flyer on “Key Dates for Tax Years 2013 and 2014” was distributed, along with a brochure on the Homestead Exemption. For more information on AVI, please visit http://opa.phila.gov/

 –Submitted by Karin Morris, PSCA Secretary, November 6, 2012.

 

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