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Where’s the New Revenue?

How to Grow Property Tax Revenue Fairly and Equitably

By Brent Jones, Esri Land and Cadastre Global Industry Manager

In many parts of the country, the death knell for tax hikes has sounded. While wages and other costs rise, no new revenue from raising property tax rates is likely to come as local governments work to keep those rates fixed. The good news is that new revenue can be generated with up-to-date property data and modernized GIS technology.

New mandates, requirements, and efficiency tasks often require governments to add new software and capabilities in an attempt to stay current. Compounding this, the technology that citizens use daily has raised their expectations of how local governments deliver services. At minimum, they expect to access maps and data fast on all their devices. These expectations put us at odds with budgetary realities.

Increasing revenue without raising taxes isn’t a pie-in-the-sky idea. Consider today’s assessors. Many of them use external data to ensure property data is accurate and current. They’re bringing in more money by discovering untaxed improvements. Using affordable new data services like NearMap and DigitalGlobe, assessors can get a current bird’s eye view of what’s actually on the ground and compare it with their existing property data. New change detection services streamline this process.

With new apps like Esri Photo Survey, assessors can rapidly collect up-to-date street level photographs with low-cost, consumer-grade cameras. By combining field force management and routing tools in Workforce for ArcGIS with field appraisal management practices, local governments are increasing revenues and decreasing operating costs with minimal investments in software and data services.  Many assessors don’t realize that they already own these tools and capabilities as part of the ArcGIS platform.

Valuation appeals are costly to defend. Current, accurate data coupled with advanced analytics enables assessors to gather and present the evidence to support defensible values. Insights for ArcGIS delivers new capabilities to see undiscovered trends and patterns delivering better communication with taxpayers to maintain trust of the assessment process.  Today’s GIS marries spatial data with advanced analysis on all devices, eliminating the expense of long-term support cost and the need to create custom applications.

There are practical and systematic ways to improve revenue from real property.  If you’re not using all of your GIS capabilities, perhaps it’s time you do. Follow the lead of many assessors who use maps, data, and analysis for discovery. It’s the fair and equitable thing to do.

For more information, see the ArcGIS for Land Records white paper.

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