GIS has enabled us to make our business processes more efficient without raising our budget. This technology has saved the county so much time and money.
Massac County Accomplishes Parcel Data Accuracy with GIS
Not many people can say they live in the county of the hometown of Superman, but for residents of Massac County, Illinois, that seems to be just the case. Within this small jurisdiction located at the easterly southern tip of Illinois lives over 14,000 people. To manage the residents' parcel data, the county needed a new hero that could save the Supervisor of Assessments Office time and money, and that hero was geographic information system (GIS) technology. Since making the investment in GIS, Massac County is seeing the benefit of utilizing Esri technology to convert its old workflow systems to ArcGIS Parcel Fabric.
The Struggle to Keep Records Current
With regular counter traffic, limited staff, and data changing frequently, Massac County has always faced the challenge of keeping records current. For the longest time, the Supervisor of Assessments Office was accustomed to managing its data and operations through a disk operating system (DOS). The DOS caused delays in the workflow process; made it more difficult to keep records updated; and was a poor property tax system, as everything had to be done manually. To try and make the workflow easier, the Supervisor of Assessments Office started transitioning to a more technology-based path by using a Windows-based system. Despite the improvement in the workflow, it was still not the best way to operate all the county's data. In addition to the amount of work that needed to be done daily, staff reductions also played a major factor in finding a solution that could supplement and improve the time it takes to complete everything.
Public access also became a struggle for Massac County, since there was not an existing county website. People in the community were eager for more transparency when it came to knowing their property values and information. What Massac County needed was a comprehensive solution that could host all its property data and information for the public. Converting an old, antiquated system into the latest technology would require considerable time, but the hope was that all the efforts would be worth it in the end.
Providing Accurate Records for the County and Public
By 2015, Massac County partnered with Bruce Harris & Associates, an Esri partner, to help it merge its Windows-based system with GIS technology. One of the first things the Supervisor of Assessments Office wanted to leverage GIS for was to share a map with the public that visually displayed parcel information about each person's property.
To elevate the way property information was shared with the public, the County GIS Hub was created for Massac County as an all-in-one, user-friendly platform that displays the parcel map, property tax search tool, county statistics, sales ratio studies, and other informational documents that everyone has access to.
Additionally, the Supervisor of Assessments Office was able to save long-term hosting fees and software expenses by utilizing its existing licensing through Esri to launch the hub site, saving the county immense time and money.
Improving Workflows and Reducing Costs
After implementing Parcel Fabric in ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Hub, Massac County saw a 95 percent reduction in internal traffic. This is largely due to the fact that prior to standing up ArcGIS Hub, the Supervisor of Assessments Office website consisted only of a web map. With ArcGIS Hub, the county was able to link this web map to an official Supervisor of Assessments Office website and landing page, connecting the office to the public and other county departments. With less people coming in and out of the office to handle their affairs, the Assessments Office can process paper work and appeals at a faster rate. This speedy engagement with the public has resulted in a reduction from over 250 complaints on valuations to just 25 in the last year.
"The more information I have available, the more transparent I am, the easier it makes my job. And the happier the public is too," said Gary Hamm, chief county assessment officer of Massac County.
Although the number of transactions increased by 45 percent, learning ArcGIS Pro allowed Massac County to make all the necessary edits, cutting office costs for the county by 30 percent from the previous year, with greater savings anticipated in the future.
Recently, because of all the tools available through Esri, the Supervisor of Assessments Office was able to assist the Cache River Taxing District to utilize the Massac County, Illinois Property Search web map to handle all its future tax collection. There are endless opportunities for the county to provide all kinds of maps with data, from city to county election sites to tax increment finance districts. Information and links will also be a big part of the future for Esri's ArcGIS Hub.
The office workload has also changed tremendously, from assisting the public to working on ensuring that the data is updated and current. ArcGIS Hub has allowed the county to provide all available information in the Supervisor of Assessments Office online.
"Due to the ability over the past few years of utilizing Esri's tools and resources, I will have a seamless transition with a new staff in maintaining all the work. Staffing has also reduced without impacting budgets and stressing workloads, leaving plenty of time to accomplish many projects in half the time," said Hamm.
Other small counties can also follow Massac County's geographic approach to managing parcel data in a better, more modern way while simultaneously improving their workflows and creating more transparency with the public.
"It's neat that a small county like this can really utilize all these tools and resources to their advantage," Hamm said.