Appraisal and Tax Innovators Honored at Connect

May 23, 2019 by Meredith Trimble

Appraisal and Tax Innovators Honored at Connect

Fair and equitable taxation is the backbone of local government’s ability to fund and provide core citizen services, including public school funding, public safety, libraries, and road maintenance and repairs. Busy offices, tight budgets, and antiquated manual processes can inhibit timely collections.

To combat these challenges and better serve residents, exemplar counties and departments are innovating in their use of modern technology to boost efficiency, accuracy, and performance. In 2019, the following rose to the top, taking Tyler Excellence Award honors at the industry’s largest conference, Connect 2019.

Fulton County, GA

Fulton County is a county on a thoughtful progression in its technology use. With separate offices leveraging data from different files and different systems, connecting disparate data became a priority. In addition, coming off of a freeze at 2016 valuations and preparing residents for a likely tax increase required enhanced transparency to maintain public trust.

To bridge the gap and offer streamlined communication, accuracy, and reliability, the county implemented software that automated steps and increased public self-service options. More than 60 % of appeals were generated electronically in the first few months. To ensure residents understand the valuations, public access functionality offers the public information about nearby parcels so people can compare values for themselves.

A multi-year tax road map provides clear vision and ensures that everyone is on the same page. By first quarter 2019, the county had already achieved 98 % collection rate, months ahead of past schedules.

San Miguel County, NM

San Miguel county sought a way to enhance efficiency and information sharing between offices. To increase visibility, improve access to up-to-date data, and actively manage tasks, the county implemented software that gives employees the ability to share data, access relevant information, and reduce redundant effort.

With seamless integration of appraiser and assessor modules, the county processed more than 300 affidavits in 2018 – nearly double past year amounts. Not only can appraisers process parcels faster, they can link documents to parcel information and rely on accurate and real-time data to back up their day-to-day operations. With the system tracking these tasks through appropriate workflows, the software holds people accountable and helps to mitigate gaps or errors. In addition, if an assessor updates a record, it automatically appears updated on the treasurer’s side. This allows the offices to confirm the right information and send to the correct address

Montana Department of Revenue

The Montana Department of Revenue needed to ensure fair and equitable valuation and taxation in 56 counties in the face of office reductions. With 170 appraisers across the state, each operating with somewhat different processes and traveling to division offices multiple times a day, a need also arose to increase mobility and communication.

To streamline operations, reduce expenses, and increase efficiency, the department implemented a mobile software solution that provides appraisers with mobile capabilities via an app in the field. Appraisers can access property record information through the app, attach photos directly to the parcel, add sketches, and compile all critical information digitally, and just once. This saves each appraiser 10 to 30 minutes per parcel.

These pioneering departments are providing organizations around the country with roadmaps for anticipating and responding to specific needs, building thriving communities, and empowering offices to deliver better and faster assistance to their populations.

Land and Official Records

In Land and Official Records, facilitating excellent customer service and easy access to up-to-date information in an environment of complex recording challenges is also key to community vibrancy and growth. The following county exhibited award-winning innovation in this area.

Brazoria County, TX, County Clerk’s Office

With four offices serving more than a quarter-million residents, Brazoria County faced hurdles in keeping the public well-served and staff time well-managed. Staff spent significant time searching for physical documents for the public and engaging in duplicative manual entry of information. Taxpayers struggled with visiting several offices to search for needed information.

To enhance public access to information and ease staff workload, Brazoria County digitized its information. “Basically, we wanted to get everything on the computer so the public wouldn’t have to come in and look at or touch a paper file…,” County Clerk Joyce Hudman explained.

With new records management software, Hudman’s team saves 30 to 45 minutes per employee, per day on bookkeeping tasks. Because the software integrates with Brazoria’s financial system, end-of-month close out procedures take hours, instead of a week. Information flows seamlessly across offices, and constituents can research and submit requests electronically, reducing lines and office waits.

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