HARRISBURG, Mar. 8, 2012 —On Mar. 6, state Sen. Anthony H. Williams steered through the Senate two legislative initiatives to aid homeowners in Philadelphia. The measures passed by a 48–0 vote and head to the House Finance Committee.

Williams authored SBs 1301 and 1302 to provide the City of Philadelphia with the tools it needs to transition to a property assessment system that more accurately reflects the value of the properties.

Williams Homestead Exemption bill, SB 1301, authorizes the City of Philadelphia to provide a property tax exemption for low-income citizens and seniors, the only jurisdiction in the Commonwealth without the authority to offer a homestead exemption.

“Philadelphia needs flexibility as it seeks to update its property assessment process,” said Williams. This legislation provides the city the room it needs to structure a system that will be effective, make sense and work for all city residents fairly, especially for our most vulnerable citizens – those of low economic means and seniors.”

Philadelphia is in the process of reforming its property assessment system by undertaking a full, citywide reassessment in which the true value of every city property will be determined. SB 1301 will protect low-income and senior homeowners from losing their homes by alleviating a portion of their assessments should their property tax increase significantly under the full valuation system and render them unable to pay their property tax bill.

Act 50 of 1998 allows participating Pennsylvania school districts, counties and municipalities to offer property tax reductions to its permanent residents. This homestead exclusion reduces the assessed values of single family homes, condominiums, farms and other places of permanent residence, reducing the taxes on the property.

The Senate today also passed Williams’ SB 1302, which authorizes the City of Philadelphia to create a new independent appellate board, the Philadelphia Board of Property Assessment Appeals.

“I am pleased that the City of Philadelphia can now move forward to ensure fair and accurate assessments and an independent appeals process for those who deem they have been unfairly assessed on their property taxes,” said Williams.

The new Appeals Board was passed overwhelmingly by referendum May 18, 2010. Under this bill, members of the new board would be appointed by the Mayor from a group of nominees identified by a nominating panel of industry and professional experts. Appointments would require confirmation by City Council and appointees could only be removed for cause.

“Passage of these initiatives by the Senate is the first step toward fulfilling the will of the citizens of Philadelphia and enacting safeguards to create a more fair and just system,” said Williams.