During the Kosciusko County Council’s meeting July 11, Pictometry narrowly received approval with a vote of four to three, following a debate over its cost-effectiveness.
County assessor Laurie Renier had asked for an additional appropriation of $214,869.20, the estimate for the first flight. With a program called Change Finder, the assessor’s office will be able to overlay Pictometry photos taken during that first flight with base photos taken during a flight in November 2010 to see any changes that may have occurred to properties. The aerial photos are used by many county offices, including zoning and planning and even by police agencies.
John Beer, a residential appraiser with the assessor’s office, noted without Pictometry the office would expect to hire 34 part-time workers to complete the reciprocal assessment, which requires one-fourth of the county be completed each year.
Currently, the assessor’s office employs eight people. Beer stated there would be an $165,000 increase in wages, plus the need for rental cars to transport them to the sites, a cost of $30 per day.
It was estimated with Pictometry the cost would be roughly $100,000 compared to $320,000 without it.
Beyond cost-savings, the assessor’s office would see time-savings with Pictometry by allowing it to cut some of its time in the field. The resolution of the Pictometry photos are so high appraisers can get fairly accurate measurements and the degree of angles, according to Beer.
Council member Larry Teghtmeyer questioned if it would be as effective as visiting the property, to which Beer stated in most cases it would be.
Renier added the assessor’s office would still visit properties for appeals, unusual features and appraisals. So far, the assessor’s office has found lots of undocumented decks, pools, pole buildings, cabins through the aerial photos.
Council member Doug Heinisch questioned whether the revenue Change Finder was finding would be greater than its cost while fellow council member Jon Fussle wished to see clearer numbers for savings and costs. Jim Moyer also stated he disagreed with the numbers presented, noting it was unlikely the county would rent cars, but rather pay for mileage, or hire 34 workers.
Teghtmeyer asked about the value Pictometry would provide to the county, including police and fire departments, and who would assure the aerial photos would get used.
A representative with Pictometry, Lowell Davis, told the council their program is web-based, making it easy to put people into the system — simply requiring a username and password. He noted Pictometry would provide training for no additional cost to the county.
Fussle also questioned whether the flights could be stretched out further, even dropping a flight. Davis noted they could without the county paying for dropped flights.
Teghtmeyer motioned to approve Pictometry, stating he was doing so due to the approximate $200,000 in savings and the value it could bring to the county. Brad Tandy, Jon Garber, Teghtmeyer, Robert Sanders were in favor while Fussle, Heinisch and Moyer voted against it.