On May 18, 2010 (PA Primary Election Day), Philadelphia voters will decide whether the City’s Board of Revision of Taxes should be abolished. The BRT is an independent agency that sets the value of all properties in Philadelphia which determines the amount a property owner must pay in property taxes. The BRT has been under attack since the spring of 2009 when the Philadelphia Inquirer began a series of investigative reports sharply criticizing the agency.

Mayor Michael Nutter demanded the resignation of its seven members. The members refused to resign and the Mayor and others set into motion attempts to abolish the BRT. However, City Council cannot abolish the BRT without voter approval. On May 18th, the City will have the following ballot question:  

“Shall the Board of Revision of Taxes be abolished, and its powers, functions and duties be reassigned to a new Office of Property Assessment (with respect to the making of assessments) and to a Board of Property Assessment Appeals (with respect to appeals from such assessments), with the members of the Board appointed from nominations made by a Board of Property Assessment Appeals Nominating Panel? 

Five BRT members filed a lawsuit asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to prevent the question from appearing on the ballot. The Court rejected the members’ claims and the question will appear on the ballot. If the ballot question passes, the changes would go into effect on October 1, 2010. As of October 1, 2010, a new Office of Property Assessment (OPA) will be responsible for making and supervising all assessments and valuations of residential and commercial real estate in Philadelphia.