Candidate Blogging: Jim Kenney on Accurately Assessing Land Value

JimKenny_GraysFerryTriangles.jpgLast week we sent The 5th Square 2015 Candidate Questionnaire to all candidates for City Council and Mayor. In that questionnaire we gave the option for candidates to reach out directly to voters via our blog. 9 different topics were offered. Below please find Jim Kenney's response to Topic 5. For the list of other topics offered and the entirety of Kenney's responses to our Candidate Questionnaire, please see the link to the PDF at the bottom of this post.

Please Note: posting of Candidate Questionnaire responses does not constitute a 5th Square endorsement. Candidate endorsements will be released at a later date.


Jim Kenney on Accurately Assessing Land Value

Author: James F. Kenney

The implementation of the Actual Value Initiative was an important step in bringing Philadelphia’s property valuations into the 21st century. As part of the AVI process however, the city did not undertake a thorough review of the land values of properties. Instead, properties have just been assessed at their market or near-market value, and land was made a small portion of that value, usually from 10% - 20%. This has led to some land being vastly under-assessed, specifically in Center City, and has given a significant break to recipients of the Real Estate Tax Abatement who only pay taxes on the land value. The most significant break however has fallen to land speculators, who are sitting and waiting for the next real estate bubble, or for a developer to approach with a plan to redevelop property the speculator has been sitting on for decades.

In order to fix this situation, my administration will conduct a full review of land values across the city, with a specific focus on abated properties and vacant land. This reevaluation will raise land value, and increase city revenue from these parcels. The revaluation of land values on all other properties should keep total assessments flat, and not increase property taxes for the vast majority of Philadelphians. Once the reevaluation is complete, my administration will look to adjust the ratio at which land and improvements are taxed so the higher burden falls on the land portion. This tax structure has been known to promote density, and specifically disincentivize speculators sitting on valuable parcels for many, many years.

In order to keep these assessment accurate, they must be reassessed regularly. Best practices from other cities call for reassessments yearly, or at least every two to three years. The city is currently set to conduct its first post AVI full reassessment next year. My administration will follow this with annual or biennial reassessment of the full value, and land value at the same time.


For the rest of Jim Kenney's Candidate Questionnaire, please click the link below:

Candidate Questionnaire - James F. Kenney (D) Mayoral Candidate