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Why County Assessors Need GIS

by Andrew on March 4, 2014

Traditionally, county assessors used a "planimeter" tool for agricultural land assessment. This provided a variety of data, including identifying soil types, dividing land use codes, and establishing specific land use acreage. The process was slow; and you might spend innumerable hours poring through dots on a map only to discover that you were dealing with outdated or misrepresented information that affected the accuracy of your labors. Geographic information systems, or GIS, have changed the face of agricultural land assessment, accomplishing in moments what would have taken hours with those older assessment tools.
 
How GIS Improves Performance
You can perform parcel splits and agricultural land assessment in seconds using a GIS. Clip out soil types, identify land use, and determine benefited acres with a few simple mouse clicks, developing a file that can be integrated with your computer aided mass appraisal (CAMA) system. This allows your county assessor's office to accomplish more in a shorter time with less manpower, and that means reduced costs with greater accuracy.
 
A growing number of counties are employing GIS to identify parcel boundaries, but are slower at integrating assessor's land use data layers into the system. Agricultural land assessment that has traditionally been stored in the CAMA system and then divided using educated guesses or statistical percentages can be integrated with the county-wide GIS, allowing easy and accurate agricultural land assessment.
 
GIS is Cost Effective
You will need some key information in order to provide GIS-based agricultural land assessment through the assessor's office. This information is available through GIS software that includes Agland™ assessment tools, and typically includes parcel boundaries, right-of-way data, designated land use features, and soil identification boundaries. Compared to the cost of employee time and data verification, the cost of the software tools is negligible, offering a noticeable return on investment.
 
Creating an Agricultural Land Assessment Layer
Building a land use layer requires the involvement of GIS professionals trained in land use classification who can interpret current aerial images. They will develop information that is combined with your CAMA data to develop your GIS land use data layer. This layer is often confused with the land use feature already used by county planning offices, but incorporates additional information specifically tracked by the assessor's office.
 
The conversion is focused on accuracy and consistency, traits that are missing from planimeter-style agricultural land assessments. This is accomplished by translating existing land use codes in your county's CAMA, and then integrating the CAMA data with current GIS parcel data which is then compared to aerial photography that identifies wood lots, excess acreage, new home sites, and other data missing from the tax roll. This information is overlayed with soils data from the NCRS and existing county parcel data. To complete the process, GIS professionals install the Agland™ software. The resulting technology automates agricultural land assessment calculations. You can then analyze specific data to determine parcels, soil types, and current land use.
 
GIS Increases Data Options
The use of GIS does more than save you time and increase your office efficiency. It will also give you more agricultural land use data that can be reviewed and calculated in many different ways. The information itself is not new, but GIS means you can access it in new ways.
 
Additional benefits of Agland™ software include:
  • Discovery of Omitted Property
  • Map Abnormal Transactions
  • Unique Parcel Study
  • Timeline and Mapping of Sales
  • Year to Year Assessment Comparisons/Studies
  • Assessment Field Routing
  • Exemption mapping
  • Farmland, Subdivision, and Personal Property Assessment
  • Drainage mapping
  • Support Assessor’s office with appeals
  • Sales validations