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Property Tax Issues

By Joe Menkevich

I did some searching and found some helpful links.  I know that many people are hurting & do not know how to get help.
Community Legal Services
Posted October 29, 2013
For years, millions of dollars in delinquent property taxes have gone uncollected in Philadelphia.
Programs to Help Homeowners with Property Taxes
Date Posted: 
Managing Property Taxes
There are many programs available to help people pay their property taxes:
  • Installment payment plans. Income-eligible homeowners and senior citizens age 65 and older can apply to pay property taxes in monthly installments during the same tax year that the taxes are due.  Application must be made by February 28th.  The Philadelphia Department of Revenue offers: 1) Income-eligible installment agreements; and 2) Senior Citizen Installment Agreements.  A homeowner whose spouse is 65 or older may also qualify for a payment plan.  If approved, homeowner receives a coupon book to make payments. The payment plan must be completed in the year in which the taxes are due.   No re-application is required for subsequent years.  If a taxpayer successfully completes either of these plans, any interest and penalties that accrued during the year will be waived by the Department.  Application forms and more information on these installment agreements are available on-line at the Department of Revenue’s website at
  • Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate. Low-income senior citizens and low-income persons with a disability may be able to receive a refund on all or part of their homestead property taxes once they are paid in full each year. More information on the Pa. Rebate program is available on-line at the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue’s website at
  • Senior Citizen “Tax Freeze.”  Low-income senior citizens can apply for a special program where their property taxes will not increase each year that they live in their home.  The program provides that eligible low-income senior citizens shall be entitled to receive refunds or forgiveness of that part of their real estate tax liability caused by either i) a real estate tax rate increase or ii) an increase in the assessed value of the taxpayer’s home. This program applies only to an eligible taxpayer’s home.  Reapplication for subsequent years is not required. More information is available on–line at:
  • Philadelphia Active Duty Reserve and National Guard Tax Credit.  Reserve members of the U.S. Armed Forces or Nation Guard who are on active duty outside of Pennsylvania may be able to receive a credit toward their homestead property taxes.  The Application form for the Philadelphia Active Duty Tax Credit is available on-line at the Department of Revenue’s website under “Common Forms” at
  • Pennsylvania Disabled Veterans Real Estate Tax Exemption Program.  The Pennsylvania Constitution provides a real estate tax exemption for any honorably discharged military veteran who is 100% disabled, whose disability is connected with his or her military service, who is a resident of the Commonwealth, and who has a financial need.  More information on the program is available at the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs’ website at
  • Homestead Exemption. The City of Philadelphia offers a Homestead Exemption program, which reduces the taxable portion of your property assessment by $30,000. This means that if you live in a home assessed by the City at a fair market value of $100,000, the City will subtract $30,000 from your assessed value before determine how much you owe. This means that a home assessed as worth $100,000 would only be taxed on $70,000 after the exemption is applied.  This could result is significant saving for homeowners on their property tax bill each year.  If you are approved, your real estate tax bill will be lower the next year.  To qualify, you must own and live in your home as your primary residence. You can apply even if your name is not on the deed.  You need to apply a year in advance of the tax year.  The deadline to apply is September each year. If you missed the deadline, you can still apply, it just won’t take effect until the second tax year.
Delinquent Property Taxes – Owner Occupied Payment Agreements
For years, millions of dollars in delinquent property taxes have gone uncollected in Philadelphia. In the push to increase enforcement and collection of property taxes, Community Legal Services has seen a sharp increase in the number of homeowners facing a tax foreclosure filed by the City of Philadelphia.  There is also real value in helping families to stay in their homes and avoiding creating more vacant properties and increasing homelessness.  In June 2013, City Council passed an ordinance creating a uniform system for allowing homeowners to enter into affordable repayment agreements for delinquent taxes, called “Owner Occupied Payment Agreements.”
The new program took effect Tuesday, October 15, 2013.  Several key features include:
  1. Access to affordable monthly payments;
  2. A standardized written repayment agreement;
  3. Forgiveness of all or part of the accrued penalties and interest if certain conditions are met;
  4. Uniform procedures and policies, regardless of which entity is collecting the taxes;
  5. Notice to homeowners of options, obligations, and availability of counseling;
  6. An appeals process for taxpayers who are denied an owner-occupied payment agreement on their home.
  7. A strict requirement that a homeowner MUST pay all of the current and future property taxes when those taxes are due (failing to pay current and future property taxes is considered a default on an agreement);
  8. Consequences for failure to pay under the agreement, including Sheriff’s Sale of the property.
If you are behind on your property taxes, there is help!
You can meet with a housing counselor who can assist you in applying for a repayment agreement.
You can contact the entity collecting your taxes, and apply directly with them.
Department of Revenue
Form for taxes being collected by the City of Philadelphia
Dept. of Revenue – Taxpayer Services
Municipal Services Bldg.
1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Concourse
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson
Form for taxes being collected by Linebarger Goggan Blair & Simpson
Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson
Attn: Patricia Smith
4 Penn Center
100 JFK Boulevard,
Suite 910
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Form for taxes being collected by GRB
1425 Spruce Street, Ste. 100
Philadelphia, PA 19102
If you need help with your property taxes, click here.
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DAR Awards Two for Excellence in Community Service

At their 2010-2013 Triennium Luncheon on Saturday, May 18th, the Flag House Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) awarded Excellence in Community Service Awards to Joseph J. Menkevich and Michael C. Axelrod.

First a little bit of history about the Flag House Chapter of the DAR.

Mr T. Worcester Worrell, a long-time Frankford resident and member of the Sons of the American Revolution, suggested to his wife, the great grand niece of Betsy Ross, that a family chapter consisting of relatives of “Aunty Claypoole” (as they called Betsy Griscom Ross Ashburn Claypoole) be formed as a lasting tribute to the maker of America’s first flag.

The idea was well received by Mrs Worrell’s relatives and an organizing meeting was held at the Worrell’s home (Column Hall – State Rd/Church St and Tacony St) on February 23, 1901.  On June 9, 1903, the founding members met the home of Ada Cooper Dickeson where they were granted their Charter from the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution.  Ms Dickeson, a member of Delaware County Chapter DAR, became a member of Flag House to be with the Ross family group and bring their numbers to a symbolic thirteen.

In 1924, Flag House Chapter opened its membership to all Revolutionary War descendants – ensuring the chapter’s survival into the next millennium.  Members continue to participate in local, state, and national DAR activities and remain a presence in Frankford and the surrounding area.

Following are the citations for the awards. Joe Menkevich is well known to many in the Frankford community.  He will be our Focus on Frankford subject in June:

Flag House Chapter, NSDAR, proudly honors Joseph J Menkevich with the 2012-13 National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Community Service Award.   Mr Menkevich, an active resident of the Northwood/Frankford area of Philadelphia, has invested his time, resources, and considerable talents in civic/community service in enhancing the livability of his community & preserving the area’s history for over a decade.

As president of the Northwood Civic Assn, he took a firm stance in working with community leaders & City to enforce the area’s protective zoning ordinances – encouraging residents to get involved.  He convened civic meetings around development and demolition to preserve the historic, social, cultural, and economic features of the neighborhood.

Joseph Menkevich can be viewed on You Tube (02 July 2012) sharing his vision for the Frankford community in conjunction with his participation in the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program’s initiative to create six murals featuring the area’s history.    He has devoted his tremendous skills, time, and resources to researching the significance of various properties in the area to discourage their demolition and encourage productive use/reuse.  These include researching/sharing  the historic significance of the home of Dr Benjamin Rush, researching Oaklands – the home of William Overington – researching and sharing the history of Lydia Darragh’s role informing Washington of the movement of British troops, and researching and encouraging the Historical Society of Frankford in the preparation of a nomination for a Philadelphia Historic Commission listing for the oldest house in Frankford.  He is a consistent and vocal presence at community meetings and a frequent contributor to the area’s on-line newspapers (, and ).

 Mr Menkevich continues to generously share his time and talents with the area’s social, civic, and historical groups.  His activities have served to inspire residents to get involved in making their community a better place.   Flag House Chapter is delighted to present this national award.

Mike Axelrod is known to Frankford as a former Vice Principal at Frankford High School.  He has also made a fascinating presentations at the Historical Society of Frankford on flag history.

Flag House Chapter, NSDAR, proudly honors Michael C Axelrod with the 2012-13 National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Community Service Award.  Mr Axelrod has combined his formidable skills as an educator and administrator and his interest in and love for history to research and present a series of programs, activities, and displays on military, American, and Flag of the United States history to children, senior citizens, educational institutions, and social, cultural, patriotic, fraternal, historical groups throughout the SE PA region.

He is Vice President of the national’s oldest flag day association (Philadelphia Flag Day Association, and is an active member of the nation’s first organized military unit (1747 – Veteran Guard, Third Regiment, National Guard of Pennsylvania 

Mr Axelrod took the lead in establishing and expanding the PFDA Flag and Banner Collection, broadening it to include 9-11 and “Support our Troops” flags – now numbering over 200.  He has raised the funds to purchase significant flags through his educational programs, which are richly illustrated by examples from the Collection.   He has been instrumental in the planning of parades/processionals, events/activities, and ceremonies to commemorate 9-11, Flag Day, Veterans’ Day, and Washington’s birthday, working cooperatively with the National  Constitution Center, US Army, Independence National Historic Park, the Betsy Ross House, Fort Mifflin, and local universities and legislators. 

 His latest project is to offer support to enhancing and expanding the Military Museum at the National Guard Armory in NE Philadelphia as a vehicle for the preservation of the nation’s military history through the items from our nation’s military history and the stories of those who used them.   Michael Axelrod continues to explore ways to bring history alive through educational outreach and patriotic pageantry as he generously shares his time and talents with the area’s social, civic, and historical groups.   His activities have served to inspire residents to get involved in making their community and this nation a better place.  Flag House Chapter DAR is delighted to present this national award today.


In addition to the honors bestowed, new chapter officers were also installed as follows:

  • Pamela Rivera, Regent  
  • Patricia Coyne, First Vice Regent  
  • Colleen Kolakowski, Second Vice Regent 
  • Betty Bedford, Chaplain 
  • Patricia Coyne, Recording Secretary   
  • Bunny Riehl, Corresponding Secretary 
  • Christie Link, Treasurer 
  • Nancy Popielarski, Registrar 
  • Patricia Coyne, Historian 
  • Kathleen Zielinski, Librarian 

Congratulations to Joe and Mike and the Flag House Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

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2010-2013 Triennium Luncheon

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African American Burial Ground at Benjamin Rush State Park

African American Burial Ground in Northeast Philadelphia 

February 18, 2013

Digital Report by Joseph J. Menkevich


As a member of the research committee of the Historical Society of Frankford and as an independent researcher, I felt a moral obligation to personally contact a number of the area’s AME & Baptist Churches and inform them of this Historical Cemetery. Many members of the Black Community thanked me, as most had never heard about it before.

On the outskirts of Benjamin Rush State Park there is a small plot of ground that once belonged to the Byberry Preparative Meeting (Society of Friends).

In 1780, the Byberry Meeting established a cemetery for Free-Blacks & former Slaves. After 200 years of custodianship, & for reasons still unknown, the Byberry Friends sold the African American Cemetery to the City of Philadelphia.

Today – as Benjamin Rush State Park undergoes it’s final stages of development, the “[African Amerian] Historic Burial Ground Not To Be Disturbed” appears to be safely inside the Plan of the Park, however that may not be the case. It is presently unknown if the City still retains ownership or not.

Presently (no matter who “owns” it), there is no clarity on the fate of this cemetery and thus-far, there has not yet been any State or City Official speak on it’s inclusion to the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places or for a ceremony & installation an Historical Marker.

On Thursday, January 27, 2013 – I met with State Park Manager Eric Ihlein at Benjamin Rush State Park and did we did a walk around the general area of African American Cemetery site.

Eric Ihlein explained many of the construction plans.  What I understood from the conversation is that the Park has funding & a budget, but the African Cemetery is not included in that budget. The plan for now seems to be an ongoing study by several “historical groups.” Here are my findings:

Continue reading African American Burial Ground at Benjamin Rush State Park

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Frankford Chronicles – Agent Lydia Darragh – Intelligence Operative

It is a privilege to present today, a new work of historic research by Joe Menkevich.  Lydia Darragh is a fascinating subject in Frankford history although she did not live here.  I won’t go into her history since Joe has done the research and you should read it from his narrative.  Whenever we have posted any reference to Lydia Darragh in the past, it has received a large number if hits from the search engines. This new work from Joe, adds to the Darragh story by providing links to other historical documents that support the story.

So picture the period in December of 1777 when Philadelphia was occupied by the British army and the Continental army was camped out at Whitemarsh. Joe’s account brings it all to life. Read it here.