THE COUNTER-MAYOR: Alan Butkovitz Is Still Not A Fan Of AVI Or The Nutter Administration

WEEKLY PRESS: “I said it was going to be a disaster when I ran four years ago,” [City Controller Alan] Butkovitz explained, adding that it’s a disaster today. “Sixty percent of property owners will see tax increases. One reason for this is there will be a shift from taxes on large commercial properties to taxes on residential properties and small businesses on commercial strips. There will also be a shift away from the Business Privilege Tax. We’ve have foreseen these problems for the last eight years. My opponent, Brett Mandell has obsessively pushed for AVI over the last decade. He wants to cut the business and wage taxes and shift it over to property owners. To add insult to injury, he has said that people buying homes in Center City or Northern Liberties should have known that their property taxes would increase when they purchased homes there ten years ago.” […] In addition, many of this city’s poorer neighborhoods, “will be knocked hard by AVI,” Butkovitz said. There’s also the accuracy of the property investments. “There’s no rhyme or reason to how the properties were assessed,” Butkovitz said. “Homeowners on the same block have wildly different assessments.” The properties, Butkovitz argued, “were supposed be assessed at 15 percent of the property value,” Butkovitz explained in reference to the fact that they were assessed at 13.9 percent. “And the assessors were off by thirty to forty percent…[I] wrote to Mayor Nutter’s Office on March 4th to ask for the formulas used and explanation of how they were applied. We have not received a response. This doesn’t make sense because they should be able to reach into a drawer and hand it to us.” MORE

RELATED: For those that have already received their new assessments in the mail, there is an element of the AVI plan, called the Homestead Exemption, that, according to “can reduce the taxable assessed value of their home” or, in other words, limit the increase of their property taxes. The current exemption’s proposal suggests exemptions from $15,000 to as high as $30,000 a year off of prevoiusly assessed property values for those that have applied and have been granted it. It is not guaranteed to be implemented to all qualified applicants, however, causing this element of the overall tax plan to be controversial for city residents. Based on this, Butkovitz said that he won’t be surprised if there are massive amounts of repeals or moves for exemptions to come from homeowners based on the assessments that they received in February. If these exemptions are granted, then the city will have to pay residents the difference from the old market value price for a property to the newly assessed one. MORE

RELATED: Michael Williams, a lawyer who was a minority-contracting official in the Street administration, pulled out of the Philadelphia City Controller’s race Wednesday and declared his support for incumbent Alan Butkovitz. Williams’ withdrawal leaves two other Democrats challenging Butkovitz’s bid for a third term – Brett Mandel, an aide to Butkovitz’s predecessor, Jonathan Saidel, and Mark Zecca, a former assistant city solicitor. The Republican candidate is Terry Tracy, a retailing executive. MORE

RELATED: The City Controller audits the operation of the Mayor and City Council. As one of nine popularly elected offices in the executive branch of city government, it’s independent of the offices it audits. To reinforce this independence, the elections for City Controller as well as the District Attorney fall midway between the election for Mayor, City Council and the other six executive office branches of Philadelphia government. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: According to numerous sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the latest firestorm was set off at the beginning of February when a sexually explicit note was found scrawled on a bathroom stall in a men’s room near the Controller’s Office on the 12th floor of the Municipal Services Building. The writing referenced a sex act between Chief Deputy City Controller Harvey Rice and his partner, political consultant Marty O’Rourke, who ran Butkovitz’s election campaign and is now contracted to provide public relations and communications services to the office for $30,000 a year. The powers that be were not pleased. Sources with knowledge of the situation say Butkovitz quickly brought in a private investigator from the Keystone Intelligence Network, which removed the stall door and dusted it for fingerprints. About a dozen employees were interrogated on city time by the investigator, with no union representation, and forced—under implied threat to their jobs—to provide fingerprints and a handwriting sample by transcribing the message on the stall, “Harvey sucks Marty’s dick.” Employees were alarmed that during the course of the interrogations they were questioned about what they thought was confidential information from their personnel files and medical records. Employees under investigation say they were also told that a hate crime had been committed. A police spokesperson said the PPD had no record of any recent contact from the Controller’s Office regarding a hate crime. Keystone Intelligence Network Director William Fleisher confirmed that his firm was hired to undertake an investigation for the Controller’s Office, but declined further comment on any details. MORE