Central Roxborough Civic Association Meeting Minutes
March 1, 2018
New CRCA President
CRCA’s newest President, Celeste Hardester, introduced herself.
Zoning: 468 Gerhard Street
Property owner James Tarmin explained that he is seeking ZBA approval for an existing 2-unit use. The property is zoned RSA-3. The property was converted to 2 units in the 1950s, and when James acquired it in 2013 a variance had already been granted. He did not know until recently that the approval had expired 6 months after the purchase, but he now seeks the same variance previously granted. Later in the meeting, there were no objections to the proposal and several votes of support.
City Revenue Dept Presentation
Vicki Riley from the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Revenue presented some options and programs for potentially lowering your property taxes.
- Homestead Exemption: This drops the assessed value of your home by $30,000, which roughly translates about a $400 savings each year on taxes. (Taxes are 1.3998% of the assessed value determined by OPA). There are no income or age requirements to qualify – you just need to own your home and live there. The only exclusions are for those who are enjoying a tax abatement for new construction and participants in the LOOP. You only need apply once (unless you refinance or otherwise change the deed), and the application process is quick and easy.
Go to www.phila.gov/opa or call 215-686-9200.
- Senior Tax Freeze: This is for Philadelphians sixty-five and older, and there are income guidelines to determine eligibility.
- Tax Installment Program is for Philadelphians under sixty-five, and there are income guidelines to determine eligibility.
- The Water Revenue (blue envelope you get every month) is managed by the Department of Revenue. Ms. Riley recommended homeowners review their bill each month and look for big jumps in your amount due. If you suspect there’s a problem, call them. If a bill is labeled “estimate”, that means the meter wasn’t read that month and your next bill may be adjusted when they do a meter reading.
City Council Announcements
Josh Cohen from Councilman Jones’ office announced that due to staff re-organization, the Roxborough Office is temporarily closed. If you need to reach the Councilman, contact Josh at City Hall for the time being.
- Josh confirmed that Mayor Kenney is seeking a 6% real estate tax increase. Councilman Jones is undecided as of now how he’ll vote. The 6% figure will likely be negotiated down to lower number prior to City Council’s vote. The proposed increase is to cover a $900 million shortfall in the school district. The Mayor is also proposing raising the real estate transfer tax to address this shortfall. Revenue from the soda tax does not go to the school district; it goes to pre-k and towards the renovation/improvement of parks and recreation centers. There also may be an extension of the homestead exemption from $30,000 to $40,000.
- Councilman Jones is contemplating a law that would decrease (to 0) the tax abatement on new development in Roxborough. He has sought guidance from the City’s Law Department about his options.
- December 20, 2017 was the start of the one-year moratorium on demolition along Ridge Avenue. Councilman Jones is working with local community organizations to create a Historic District along the Ridge.
Report from State Rep Pam DeLissio’s Office
Leza Perkins from Pam DeLissio’s office took a moment to update those presents on the latest news from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. While the new congressional district map doesn’t apply to the state house, efforts are underway for state congressional redistricting. See HB722. There have yet to be any hearings on the bill because Chair Metcalf of the State Government Committee has not listed the bill for a hearing.
Good Shepherd Mediation Services
Sue Wasserkrug described services provided by Good Shepherd Mediation.
Good Shepherd is a community justice organization. Mediation is a process for resolving disputes without going to court or resolving cases that couldn’t go to court in the first place because they aren’t really legal issues. If you are having a dispute you would like them to handle, call their office. Their office will then reach out to the other party via letter or email to see if they would be amenable to mediation. All parties must agree to the mediation. During the process, the parties meet with a trained mediator to come up with a satisfactory, lasting solution. Unlike a judge in court, the mediator does not impose a decision. Rather, the agreement reached by all parties is memorialized in writing by the Good Shepherd staff, and the agreement can be worded to be legally binding if all wish for it to be. Ms. Wasserkrug described the process as “win-win” with both parties feeling positive about the resolution, as opposed to court which is more of a “win-lose” situation. Some common cases mediators see are neighbor disputes, custody/divorce, and disagreements about elder care planning. Good Shepherd is located in the Fairmount neighborhood by the Barnes Museum. The mediators are completely secular, despite having been founded by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. Fees for mediator are on a sliding scale, so each party pays an amount that they can afford based on their income.
Earned Income Tax Credit
A message from Alan Domb’s office: You may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit on your taxes based on your income and family size.
For more information, go to www.YouEarnedItPhilly.com