For the 2014-15 tax roll, Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez has implemented a cutting-edge desktop appraisal software system that is already saving taxpayers thousands of dollars in assessment and property review costs while potentially adding millions of dollars in revenue for county and city budgets in the coming years.
Working in collaboration with a "data visualization" company called iLOOKABOUT, Henriquez instructed the HCPA to implement a web-based desktop appraisal program. The result was a unique software called GeoViewPort (GVP), which uses a combination of existing HCPA data and high-resolution aerial and ground-level photography to make extremely accurate property assessments of the county’s nearly 500,000 parcels.
In most cases, the data and images used within GVP affords the HCPA even more assessment information about an individual property than what an appraiser could see if they were physically standing in front of it.
"This technology is a significant leap forward in the way we do business and, at the same time, in the method by which we meet our constitutional responsibility of making fair and equitable assessments," Henriquez said. "Utilizing it not only represents a cost savings, it streamlines our workflow and improves the accuracy of our data."
The resolution of the imagery allows extremely accurate measurements of building footprints and home additions. And because the appraiser is behind a desk and not driving a vehicle, the HCPA has seen huge savings for the taxpayers of Hillsborough County in fuel, repairs, drive time, paper, ink, scanners and printers. To help reduce the cost of on-site inspections and lessen its carbon footprint, the HCPA has gone to a fleet of gas-electric hybrid vehicles.
Using GVP, HCPA appraisers have been able to review their yearly quota of 25 percent of the county's parcels more accurately, at a faster rate and at a reduced cost. Since beginning the project on July 14, 2014, approximately 10,066 parcels have experienced a value changes from GVP, both adding and subtracting parcel value information. The HCPA estimates these changes have been responsible for adding $9.2 million of residential value to the county tax roll, which, annually, would result in approximately an increase of $184,000 in revenue for the county’s school board and other local taxing authorities.
Since this value increase is added to the tax roll in perpetuity, over the course of 10 years, the county could see $1.8 million in added revenue. And if similar value increases are found in the remaining 75 percent of the county that the HCPA will review in the coming three years, the revenue increase for the county could eventually approach $7 million.
"With this and other technological improvements we are making in our office, we are literally on the cutting edge of property appraising,” Henriquez said. “And the benefits to the taxpayer more than makes up for the initial investments."