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home : news : news May 29, 2016

3/14/2013 11:48:00 AM
Techno-stuff on commissioner agenda

by DENISE MARTIN Two county departments came to the county board last week seeking technological upgrades and the one that had a grant to help cover the costs got the okay.

Heartland Express Director Craig Rempp said the dispatching software used by the Heartland bus system is outdated, and will be replaced partly with a MnDOT Technology Grant. It will still cost Isanti and Chisago counties $12,500 each to cover what the grant doesn’t pay for. The grant is $75,000. Rempp said there is an automatic vehicle locator included in the system, which will be a nice tool for dispatch. There are three new monitors, wireless connections and the software. Implementation was okayed 5-0 by the Board and the system should be all set-up summer 2013. However, the request from the county assessor for contracting the services of Pictometry Intl. was delayed until impact to the annual budget can be reviewed.

County Assessor John Keefe said the aerial imaging that the county does every five to seven years is due to be done again soon, and by going to Pictometry there’s a savings over what the county has contracted for in the past, plus their product is much more useful. Keefe said the last time the county was flown for digital aerial images was 2007. “Since that time utilization of Pictometry (their equipment provides a top down and three dimensional view) has increased significantly.” Pictometry pioneered the oblique image capture and also developed the ability to glean measurements from its images (photogammetry). Shots are collected from east, west, north and south angles using specially equipped airplanes. The company website states governments are major customers, but insurance companies and emergency management services also use the imagery. Keefe said 55 of Minnesota’s 87 counties are using this geographical database application. His information is that counties are realizing savings by not sending staff to make parcel visits to do valuation re-assessments. Staff can “catch up” on some deferred property measurements, view parcel improvements and other factors that deputy assessors normally would have to review on-site, he added. Keefe said the aerial photography has to be done before trees leaf-out. He hoped to get onto the Pictometry flight schedule yet this year.

The service was not budgeted for 2013 though. Commissioner George McMahon made a motion to send this to the budget committee. The recommendation for funding to come out of the County Recorder’s Technology Fund surprised him; he said he didn’t even know there was such a thing. County Administrator Bruce Messelt explained that this image gathering system is exactly the kind of allowed use described in state laws-- that also provide for collection of a portion of deed tax that goes into the Technology Fund.

This approximately $71,000 Pictometry contract is not “levy” dollars, Messelt explained. Commissioner Ben Montzka also asked for a recommendation on Pictometry’s product from the county engineer too. Montzka said these aerials also provide topographical information for road projects and he wants to be assured the specs of Pictometry are applicable to public works’ needs and that existing information sets can be overlaid onto the Pictometry scenes. The motion to review this in a future Board session passed 5-0.

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