More detailed tax info soon to be on-line
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
A growing number of Morgan County residents and businesses are availing themselves of local public information from the tax assessor's office that is available on-line. But the limited level of free access available up until now has been frustrating for some.
The county plans to respond to this growing request for data by working with a new company called Binary Bus, which will be supported by the county, but allow more free information to be made available to the public. In addition, Binary Bus will support the inclusion of some subscriber-only information, such as high-definition aerial photography of the county and two-foot topographical data which cannot be placed on the county's current tax-assessor information provider, Q-Public, at any price.
“Basically any aspect of the [county's] GIS data can be included in the Binary Bus system,” said county GIS coordinator Drew Neighbors. That means that information on structures, cemeteries, roads, all could be available on-line at some point in the future.
The county got into the on-line tax assessor information business by allowing Q-Public to set up a free trial system, currently operational, which allows residents or business owners to search for tax parcels in the county by owner's name, parcel number, or location. Residents can also calculate estimates on taxes, and download information on tax-abatement programs. But more specific information is limited to subscriber-only access, which the county does not control, and some GIS information cannot be added to the current system at all.
The county will contract with Binary Bus to set up a records-access system that will have more free information available to the public, and much more detailed and useful information available to anyone who would like to subscribe to the service; rates are likely to be $50 per year for the enhanced access. The county will pay $4,800 per year, plus a one-time set-up fee of $2,500 for the creation of the Binary Bus site. Subscriber rates are expected to significantly off-set the annual maintenance costs.
“If we had 100 subscribers, that would just about cover our costs,” said Commissioner Ellen Warren.
Neighbors said that he has fielded about a hundred phone calls about this project in recent months.
“We have the technology in place, and people can use it from home,” said Commissioner Andy Ainslie.