Kansas Operates Equitably Statewide
- Industry: State Government
- Location: Topeka, Kansas
- Number of Employees: 37
- Population: 2,913,314
- Tyler Client Since: 1986
- Tyler Products Used: Orion™, Orion Field Mobile™, CLT Appraisal Services™
For more than 30 years, the Kansas Department of Revenue (DOR) has been a Tyler client. Within the DOR, the state’s Property Valuation Division (PVD) works diligently to provide fair and equitable valuation and taxation for all 105 counties. Many of these counties have individually maintained servers and databases on-premises at various offices — causing a significant strain on resources and overall data integrity. So, in the mid-1990s, as the technology landscape shifted toward a more modern, digital stance, the PVD looked to upgrade its software and processes.
Computer-assisted mass appraisal (CAMA) and field assessments were two areas in which the division would focus much of its efforts. Raelane Schnacker, CAMA manager, recalls how the prospect of certain functionality affected the decision-making process. “We needed something new, something that would allow us to pull in additional capabilities like reporting, GIS mapping, and import and export tools ... all within a single system,” she said. “We needed to be able to make modifications and customizations to quickly assist counties, as needed.”
The county also experienced challenges with general efficiency and management of appraisal documents. For instance, there was an issue with the percent complete form in the property valuation process; this paper form was cumbersome and time-consuming for staff to manage along with other parcel work. Field appraisers would enter data about a property, manually calculate the percent complete per the phase of construction, return to a physical office, and then transfer that information to data entry staff for upload into multiple systems.
To address those needs, the PVD, along with other local appraisal jurisdictions, began looking for a software upgrade to modernize capabilities and offer management better visibility into daily operations. It would also look to reduce paper, streamline operations, and remove manual tasks, as various forms and procedures caused bottlenecks across offices.
The Sunflower State decided that Orion™ was the perfect solution. The statewide implementation began in 2007, and the new CAMA system gave county offices new opportunities for collaboration. The PVD maintains a majority of the servers for the counties within its own IT department without needing to manage individual, local computers and servers. Because Orion is now used across the entire state, this means offices can leverage existing data and workflows to streamline processes and communications across offices.
Orion Field Mobile™ gives staff access to property information, photos, GIS-mapping, easy import and export tools, and much more, all at their fingertips. The solution reduces the amount of time appraisers must spend in the field, greatly reduces data entry and rekeying errors, and eliminates the hassle of carrying around multiple documents.
Tyler has been really great to work with. We have developed quite a relationship with the support and development teams, and they are usually pretty quick about assisting us.
And, with the help of Tyler support staff, the PVD created a new percent complete item page within the CAMA menu which displays dates, contract information, and construction phase checks to ensure progress can be tracked appropriately. This change in functionality was critical — it allows all appraisers, regardless of method (mobile or otherwise), to have a standardized process for determining the percent complete of each new construction phase. Rolled out to all counties in the summer of 2019, the customizations the PVD made to the Orion system gave the division confidence in maintaining a quality CAMA application across all 105 jurisdictions.
The configurability of the Orion software allows the Kansas DOR PVD to provide a powerful and efficient solution for every county in the state. James Shontz, appraisal data coordinator, cites how impactful the system’s flexibility truly is. “We created some applications and reports within the database that counties and our compliance section can use to track information,” he said. “They can use the reports as quality control — to gauge valuations and more. It’s a great accountability factor.”
Overall, counties using mobile tools no longer need to juggle tablets, paper forms, and calculators — all the data entry can occur in one place, on site. Internal staff can rely on new batch jobs, process automation, and customized forms to reduce the risk of errors and allow for increased productivity. The public experience involves less friction points and fewer manual tasks which greatly affects the relationship local government has with communities around the state. With Tyler’s modern tools empowering staff around the state, the DOR provides Kansas taxpayers peace of mind in fair and equitable operations.