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Longtime Northern Liberties Resident Urges City Hall To Cap Taxes Increases Under AVI

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - As Philadelphia City Hall grapples with the ramifications of setting up a new property tax assessment system, a long-time Northern Liberties resident says many neighbors have already paid their 'fair share.' He says they helped stabilize properties, before they had real value.

Larry Freedman says when he moved into his mixed unit building in 1986, it wasn't much more than a shell.

"Our friends went down in the basement and said, 'I don't think it's going to fall down anytime soon.' That's a very low threshold to purchase."

Now, he's facing a tax assessment that could double his property tax bill.

Freedman says Northern Liberties is now a desirable neighborhood to work, live and play.

By his calculations, in the last 13 years alone in Northern Liberties, at least 300 new residential units went up, ranging from $300-to-$800,000, bringing in $1.8 million in taxes.

Freedman says much of that is due to the good work of residents who stayed put, whose work has directly caused property values to increase over the years.

To illustrate his point, he has sent an invoice to City Hall. Freedman calculates, when you multiply his 10 hours a week volunteering with the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association over the last 26 years, and paid at his hourly rate, the city owes him $1.5 million. He thinks other neighbors should submit a similar invoice.

In lieu of that, Freedman says rather than clobber long-time residents who helped stabilize the neighborhood, why not put a lid on the tax changes?

"The assessments should be worked on across the city, but I think everybody's taxes -- whether they went up or down -- should be capped at 10 percent."

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