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Crow Wing County Board: Board gives land services tech project go-ahead

Screen grab showing Brainerd International Raceway, North Long Lake and First Assessment Unorganized Territory take from Crow Wing County's GIS pubic mapping service.

The database used to track all the parcels in Crow Wing County is about to join the 21st century.

The county board Tuesday authorized the land services department to move ahead with a contract with Tyler Technologies. The software company will work with the county to develop a new tax/computer-assisted mass appraisal system to replace the 1970s-era Legacy system the county continues to use. The technological upgrade was planned in the 2017 capital improvement plan, predicting an expenditure of $1.2 million over the next two years. In return, the new system is expected to be more efficient, save costs and improve customer service for the county's tax assessment work, said Mark Liedl, land services director.

"The system we have now is woefully outdated," Liedl said.

A new system would provide "more fairness and transparency and consistency in our assessment of properties," Liedl said.

"It will make us better," he said. "One of the best—the best—is what we strive for."

One advantage of a new system is connectivity with the tablets the appraisers use in the field, allowing information gathered to be placed directly into the database rather than requiring a doubling of efforts toward data entry. The system might also simplify the county's parcel identification system, assigning less complicated ID numbers to parcels.

Another way the system could be simplified with the help of a new system would be to consolidate ownership of multiple parcels into one tax statement.

"We're the only county in the state that the parcel size cannot be bigger than 40 acres," Liedl said. "It doesn't really make sense now. ... If we could combine parcels under single ownership, that would really help administratively."

Sam Bedard, property assessor, told the board using a computer-assisted mass appraisal system improves consistency of how properties are valued and described.

The project is expected to be complete and the database system would go live by Dec. 31, 2018.

Liedl, whose resignation was accepted by the board Tuesday, will remain as the project manager for the transition to the new program. He will earn a $60,000 salary plus benefits to oversee the project to its completion, which coincides with the remainder of his term as county recorder.

In other business, the county board:

Opted to offer no comment and to waive a 30-day review period for a tax increment financing, or TIF, district in the city of Baxter. The TIF district would contain 40 existing parcels bordered by Excelsior Road, Forest Drive, Fox Place, Clearwater Road, Edgewood Drive and Highway 371 in Baxter.

Approved an out-of-state travel request for Kara Terry, community services director, to attend the McCourt School of Public Policy Leadership, Evidence, Analysis and Debate conference, April 6-7. All expenses will be paid by the Casey Family Programs in association with the department's crossover youth efforts along with child protection and chemical dependency.

Authorized two finance staff members to attend the Tyler Connect conference May 7-10 in San Antonio. Expenses were budgeted into the 2017 finance budget.

Approved the hirings of the following people: Amber Hines, correctional officer, sheriff's office; Stephanie Shook, assistant county attorney; and Alec Rude, seasonal engineering assistant.

Accepted the departures of the following employees: Stacy Patnode, public health nurse, community services; Cindy Benedett, senior analyst, information technology; Robin Peck, senior technical/administrative specialist, sheriff's office; and Ilissa Ramm, human resource generalist/labor and employment attorney, human resource.

Replacement staffing for all except Ramm's position was also approved. Ramm's position was reclassified to a senior technical/administrative specialist. Two other positions were also reclassified: a program supervisor position in community services was reclassified to a program manager position, which is a higher grade; and Amy Fischer's position in human resource was reclassified to a higher grade.

Approved replacement staffing for a correctional officer in the sheriff's office, an administrative associate in the sheriff's office and an engineering technician in the highway department.

Chelsey Perkins

Chelsey Perkins grew up in Crosslake and is a graduate of Pequot Lakes High School. She earned her Bachelor's degree in professional journalism from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. Perkins has interned at the Lake Country Echo and the Rochester and Austin Post-Bulletins and also worked for the student-run Minnesota Daily newspaper as a copy editor and columnist during college. She went on to intern at Utne Reader magazine, where she was later hired as the research editor. Before joining the Brainerd Dispatch, Perkins worked as a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal.

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