Alan Butkovitz []
Apparently according to a City Hall insider, City Controller Alan Butkovitz, who just so happens to be up for re-election right now, is making the rounds at some AVI meetings in the hoods and ginning up a storm that people will be thrown out of their homes by the tax man.

How can Alan justify this statement when he knows damn well that the Revenue Department is slow to act on tax deadbeats?

Further, and this is what is really strange… I’ve watched the footage of Jannie Blackwell’s AVI meetings where Butkovitz has magically appeared in the room.   We’re talking all-black neighborhoods Butkovitz is mostly going to.

What kind of strategy is this, Alan?   Are you privately reassuring these folks later on, and off camera and off the record, that you’ll fight against AVI as long as they take care of you in the upcoming primary?  Because if that’s your approach to dovetailing AVI into your campaign for re-election, that’s pretty fucking low.

Comcast’s customer service center at 1351 S Christopher Columbus Blvd where one can find a drab experience of a DMV complete with counter workers behind the safety of bulletproof acrylic partitions, was identified by PDQ as having a tax lien worth $97,719.30 on the Tax Delinquency Map.

Not anymore.

After pointing out the absence of a payment to @ComcastCares on twitter, Comcast has rushed to pay off the bill.

Not only did Comcast rush to pay off the lien accumulated from last year’s taxes it didn’t pay, it also paid this year’s Real Estate Tax several days before the March 31 due date.  How Comcastic!

A clean bill of health

This Saturday, the last day of the week most USPS postal centers are open for business and to get letters postmarked, is the last day you have to get those First Level Review Forms filed with the Office of Property Assessment.

One reason you should appeal:  your house is damaged and the City doesn’t know about it.

It’s not actually listed on the OPA form, but what you’re telling OPA is that they got the market value of your house wrong, and that’s because you would have to knock down the price of your house because you have defects and damages to your house that differ from similar homes that don’t have the same flaws and defects that you have with your own home.

Last night I was in a bar in Kensington and spoke to a homeowner who lives in Port Richmond.   Her basement continuously floods when it rains.  It will cost her $8,000 to $9,000 to reseal her basement, and those rubber basement seals don’t have endless lifespans.   Her assessment was raising her to the level of brand new gut-and-rehabs in Port Richmond, which is clearly wrong.

If this neighbor decided to sell her house for what OPA thought it could sell for, this woman would never be able to sell her home for that.   Sometimes a buyer and seller will agree on a price and after a home inspection it’s discovered there is damage.

In Philadelphia it is very common for buyers and sellers to agree to a seller’s assist.   Instead of the owner of the home using their own contractor and repairing the house, the buyer and seller agree on how much the repairs will cost, you go to the settlement for the sale price and what the seller of the house will do is cut you a check for the amount of the seller’s assist.   Mortgage companies agree to do these assists all the time and they happen very frequently.

If you agree to buy a house for $195K but you do a seller’s assist, what you’re actually doing is agreeing to take on a mortgage for the original sale price.  You agree with the seller how much money the seller will give up at settlement to cover the repairs, and before you get the keys to the house, you get a cashier’s check.   It’s simple, it’s easy and above all, it’s the most painless way to buy a house that has some flaws and get the house to the way you want to fix it up.

The City has no clue who does seller’s assists and who doesn’t, or for how much.   If you got holes in your party walls letting water gush in, there’s no way OPA will know this.

That’s why you need to stop what you’re doing, estimate how much damage your house has if you have any, and fill in that First Level Review form.   Take what you think your house could sell for if it was perfect with no flaws and subtract the amount of money you know you would be forced to write down your house for if you were to sell it.    That’s your Actual Value.

For every $10,000 you can write off your home’s value, that’s $132.07 a year in potential savings assuming the tax rate will be 1.3207% as Mayor Nutter suggested.

If you don’t fill out the First Level Review, and nearly 18,000 Philadelphians have already sent theirs in, you will have to do a BRT appeal, which can seem daunting.   You have to take off work, you have to do quite a bit of research on your own property, and most people hire an attorney to help them prepare their appeal and present it to the Board of Revision of Taxes.

That costs money.    The First Level Review costs you an envelope and a postage stamp.

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Edward Kelly’s Piece of Shit He’s Owned on Gordon Street for over 27 Years  [GMaps Photo, 2011]
Hi Mr. Edward Kelly of Edward Kelly General Contracting!

I know you live at 441 Linden Avenue, Glenside, PA 19038.

I know your telephone numbers, (215) 887-3158 and (215) 887-1496.

I have a copy of your deed, where you have held title to this property in Fishtown for precisely twenty-seven (27) years, seven (7) months, and thirteen (13) days.

I see where you’ve faked out L&I with a permit to do some minor repairs, yet you have availed yourself at nothing short of not making the basic repairs to the house, namely the broken doors and windows, of which all of them are broken.

Philadelinquency Has Issued A Ruling:

On the question of your L&I Notice of Violations, of which you’ve received TWO (2) of these, NOV #’s 349,144 and 369,783, which the Department of Licenses & Inspections re-inspected as early as February 19th of this year, and L&I begin citing September 10th, 2012, assuming L&I acts precipitiously in bringing your case to Blight Court for the Doors & Windows amendment to Title IV, of the Philadelphia Code, Subpart PM 306.2/4, fining you $300 per broken opening per day, for 5 broken openings cited in the NOVs, which is the sum of one thousand fifteen-hundred ($1,500) dollars a day you are not complying with with Title IV, you owe us, the People of Fishtown compensation for your self-inflicted transgressions against Us for one hundred ninety-seven (197) days of blight to the sum of two hundred ninety-five thousand five hundred dollars ($295,500).

Please pay in cash.

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A mild let-out

From the 6th Police District:

On Saturday, 03/16/13, 1:30 AM, a fight inside Aura, 626 N. Front St. resulted in a male being stabbed in the neck with a bottle. The victim was taken to the hospital by private auto and listed in serious condition. Outside the bar, a person connected to the fight went to a Jeep parked in the parking lot directly across the street, retrieved a handgun from the vehicle, stood by the passenger door and fired multiple shots towards the crowd, no persons were injured, 2 shots struck an unattended GMC.

The Jeep fled the scene, but was stopped by 6th District Officers Thornton and Hudson in the 200 block S. Columbus Blvd. The driver and passenger were identified by witnesses. The offenders, ages 26 and 27, one with a South Phila. address the other with a Secane, Pa. address were charged with Aggravated Assault and related offenses.

We’ve told you about Marc Stein-owned Club Aura, the River Wards worst nuisance club, many times (here, and here and here).

What happened after the shooting?   A Northern Liberties resident reports:

Aura opened the very next night & again this past weekend disturbing the peace with rowdy drunken business “as usual.”  

What will it take to close this operation and restore the block to safety?


What will it take?   A major shooting will probably have to happen, first.

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