Posted: Dec 6, 2011 By: Hunter Moore
Holbrook, AZ —The Navajo County Assessor’s Office, under the leadership of Cammy Darris, has partnered with the Navajo County Public Works department to revolutionize the way information is captured, maintained and stored. Several years ago, a land owner or citizen of Navajo County would need to travel to Holbrook to research information on a particular piece of land that interested them. Paper maps and other antiquated methods of record keeping required time, money and space that was somewhat cumbersome, though at the time it was all that was available.
Times have changed however, and the ability to extract and share information has drastically improved in recent times, making the County more efficient, and better equipped to serve the public. Although you can still travel to Holbrook to get all this information, a large amount of the same information is now online. Some of the major components of the County’s Geographical Information System (GIS) include:
Land parcels are the core of all Assessor functions within Navajo County, and are an integral part of Planning & Zoning and Public Works processes. Without accurate and comprehensive parcel data the County GIS would be far less robust than it is currently.
It is important for the County and the public to be able to quickly locate a parcel on a map and view the associated data that accompanies each parcel. To do this, online users can locate parcels using a “lookup table” which allows a user to input key information to retrieve the desired parcel. This search tool is updated daily to maintain changes to parcels that are split or combined and all the information is checked against the Assessor’s master database files.
Staff members within the Public Works department monitor changes to the lookup table, and check for parcels have been recently changed. This process provides them with a list of parcels that may no longer exist, and checks for any parcels that may need to be added to this lookup table.
Public Works maintains parcel information in a special type of GIS software, which retrieves information from the Assessor’s master database files, to provide added functionality to end users. The Public Works system uses AutoCAD drawings of individual parcels and “stitches” them all together into a comprehensive system. Instead of looking up one parcel at a time, a user can now view multiple parcels at a time and can see how they relate to each other. This process is the primary source for the web based mapping tools that members of the public can view online.
As the system has been refined over time, staff members have worked diligently to “clean up” some of the data that is available. During the initial conversion into the new GIS, some parcels were “stitched” into the system with some offsets. The offsets require some repositioning within the GIS, but the original information held by the Assessor has been unaltered.
Given that there are currently two parcel databases, it should be understood that the Assessor’s data is the primary and official source. However, for the purpose of researching general attributes of a parcel, such as tax districts, ownership, and acreage the GIS mapping tools are considered virtually identical to the Assessor data, with the added benefits that have been previously discussed.
Public Works maintains addresses for properties that are in Navajo County. The County assigns the addresses that are within the unincorporated areas of Navajo County, and incorporated cities and towns assign addresses within their borders. When the incorporated areas of Navajo County create a new address, that information is shared with the Navajo County Assessor’s Office, and the Public Works GIS system is subsequently updated as well.
Road centerlines have a wide variety of uses, but none more critical than assigning addresses. Because Navajo County has such a large rural population, reliable addresses are critical for providing emergency services and routing emergency responders to correct locations. Addresses are also used by the Navajo County Recorder for voter registration services and several other departments utilize addresses to conduct their business.
In 2009, Public Works awarded a contract to an independent mapping firm to perform right-of-way data maintenance. The scope of work included repositioning centerlines to fit between dedicated right-of-way parcels and to create deficient centerlines within the jurisdiction of Navajo County. The Assessor expanded the scope of work to include incorporated areas. The five County Municipalities are providing further feedback to improve accuracy and ensure thoroughness. A process is being developed to aid participants in their communication of detailed road centerline changes to Navajo County.
As mentioned previously, the Navajo County Assessor’s Office provides access to parcel information (assessments, taxes, ownership, etc) via a public website. The increased access to web based data has provided the general public with more tools to research information on subdivisions, FEMA flood zones, US Census data, topographic maps, zoning and other types of spatial/geographic information and has kept Navajo County current with practices and standards in the public sector.
Fleet Operations, a subdivision of Public Works, utilizes a GPS technology for County vehicles that can feed information to the Navajo County GIS. This software is capable of tracking vehicle movement, stops, and durations of both. Navajo County is utilizing this data to better understand vehicle usage across the organization.