Tax Assessors Web site lists property information
Statesboro Herald (GA) NEWS, Monday, February 23, 2004
by: Katherine Fitch
A new Web site unveiled last week by the Bulloch County Tax Assessors Office will make accessing property information quick and easy for both the public and professionals who use the information on a regular basis.
The Web site contains public information available through the Tax Assessors Office and other county departments including property ownership, property values, tax information, building sketches, zoning, wetlands and flood zone information, and property sales.
Itís exceeded our expectations, said John Scott, chief tax appraiser for Bulloch County.
Scott said the Web site will make the information more available and easier to use for the general public, but it will also be a great tool for many professionals who regularly access the information through his office.
Scott said surveyors, realtors, appraisers, bank lending officers, title abstracters and closing attorneys are some of the people who use his office on a daily basis.
Although all of the information on the Web site has always been available to the public under Open Records laws, Scott said the public will now be able to access it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without making a trip to the tax office. The information will be updated on a monthly basis.
But what really sets the site apart, is the mapping feature, Scott said.
Using information from the countyís Geographic Information System, Scott said they have been able to make parcel maps available showing several different layers of information: parcels, buildings, roads, subdivisions, flood zones, soil types, wetlands and property sales.
The exciting thing about this feature is you can click on any of the parcels and it will bring up the ownership information, Scott said.
Scott said a person can even pull up an aerial photograph of any site in the county.
The aerial photographs on the site now were shot in 1998, but new color photographs were taken about three weeks ago and should be available on the site by August.
Other features available on the site include a property sales search, general tax information and links to tax forms which can be downloaded.
Paul Conner, the GIS director for Bulloch County, said to best use the site a person should upgrade to Internet Explorer to 6.0, the latest version which is available as a free download. He said in order to download forms from the Web sites, a person will need to download Adobe Acrobat, which is also available free. Also, he said map downloads will be quicker with a DSL connection. Also, if a person needs a more detailed map drawn to scale, Conner said his office can create them.
Scott said they made the site easy to use so even a person who is not Internet savvy, can access the information.
Scott said the site will also greatly benefit his office by helping them to fulfill Open Records requests, freeing up staff time for other projects, and making the information easier to access.
This is the first time in my work career Iíve been able to pull up data at my desk instead of walking into the next room to look at a map, Scott said.
Everett Kennedy, a real estate agent with Prudential Johnson, said he thinks the Web site will make accessing property information much more convenient.
Pretty much everything we come to the tax office for is now on-line, Kennedy said.
I thought it was great, said Pat Hirsh, president of the Board of Realtors. The biggest advantage is that itís a time saver for both the realtors and the county.
Hirsh said whereas realtors used to have to call the Tax Assessors Tax and have someone look up the information, they can now pull up the information at their desk. Hirsh said all of the realtors she has spoken to have been excited about the Web site also. We really want to encourage the city to do the same, she said.
While the Web site includes information on property ownership and wetlands for the entire county, Scott said the site does not have the zoning information for properties inside the cities of Statesboro and Brooklet.
Scott said they are working on adding the citiesí zoning to the site. He said he has spoken with Statesboro officials who seemed receptive to the idea. Scott said they are already adding information on Statesboro city taxes to the Web site.
Another feature which will soon be added to the site is a tax estimator. Scott said a person will be able to plug in the price they paid for a property and the tax district in which it is located, and receive an estimate on the taxes for the property.
Scott said as people use the site, if they find information which they believe is incorrect or have suggestions on how to improve the site, to please contact his office.
He added that any civic organization who group which would like a demonstration of the Web site and has Internet access can contact his office at (912) 764-2181.