High-Tech Tax Maps Shows Each Property's Detail
Software will make for more fair tax assessments, county official says.
Have you ever wondered exactly how your taxes are calculated, or maybe what it is about your specific property that causes it to be assessed the way it is? Shawn Hopkins, the Jefferson Township tax assessor, is now better equipped to answer those questions with the township’s new tax map.
The map uses geospatial information software (GIS) for use and maintenance of the maps. The software offers maps with several more accurate surveys, via the use of aerial photography.
“The GIS system provides more accurate capability in making fair tax assessments,” said Stephen Rice, GIS Manager for Morris County. The assessor has a tool where he or she can do a more efficient job of analyzing components that go into making decisions.”
Hopkins was pleased with the new technology.
“This tax map issue has been the bane of my existence for 23 years,” he said. “Now the technology has caught up with our vision, and we have produced a digital tax map that far exceeds what I had hoped for.”
The GIS system was developed through a shared services agreement with the county, at a cost of just under $20,000 to the township.
“The county owns and uses the software. We are essentially doing the work for the municipality. Because we have the skilled technicians and software, we house the data,” Rice said. “But the end product is owned by the municipality.”
Besides just lot and block information, the new system includes zoning details, hydrology and building footprints. Any combination of elements can be displayed on top of the parcel-based map, Rice said.
The public will have access to the map, and be able to download PDFs. However, the store information that the town maintains will be secure, so that changes may only be made by town officials.
“This is a great example of tax dollars being put to good use on things that will make the residents’ lives easier,” praised councilman Michael Sanchelli.
“This builds a transparency in government. It goes a long way for residents to see the details of property taxation and all the inputs that tax assessor is using. They can see exactly where money is being collected and how and why,” Rice said.