Great news: More tax assessors moving to aerial reconnaissance for your protection

Great news: More tax assessors moving to aerial reconnaissance for your protection
(Image: Eagleview via Bloomberg)

[Ed. – Hey, it’s all for your good, taxpayers.  It’s all for you.]

The Southampton town assessor used such aerial photos of one of the most highly assessed gated properties in Sagaponack to show the town board how useful the flyover imagery, which cost around $110,000, could be. “We could see everything,” says Lisa Goree, the town assessor. “We could measure every roofline, every structure, the land between the structures. It was amazing.” The town already had the permits for construction done on the property, but the added detail from on high helped send the assessed value of the property from $218 million to $240 million, she says.

Resource-strapped local governments across the U.S. like how the photos can lead to more accurate tax rolls, greater tax revenue, and a far faster, easier way to assess properties. For an extra fee, counties can use software to compare current photos with prior flyovers. That helps them find potential changes to properties—and a good recent aerial photo can also stop a property tax appeal in its tracks. So while government users of the photos welcome it as a revenue and productivity boon, the impact on homeowners is more mixed. …

In 2014, two staffers used Pictometry’s ChangeFinder software, which cost the town $18,000, and found second-floor additions, extensions to first-floor living space, new garages, and other changes that all added $41 million in assessed value to the tax rolls, says Goree. …

[I]n Florida’s Hillsborough County, which started using aerial photography last year…the head of the property appraiser’s office, Bob Henriquez, says the photos and software added a net of $9.5 million to the value of properties in the area, amounting to about $182,000 in tax revenue to be collected every year.

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