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Aerial photography project to aid tax offices

By February next year, the Halifax County tax office in U.S. will have new aerial photography images of the county. County Commissioners approved the project in January, and Sanborn Map Co. of Charlotte was contracted to use orthophotography to photograph the county from the air. The company was awarded the job based on having the lowest bid and the most qualifications. They flew over the county last week, and the next step is to create the orthophotos, said County GIS Coordinator Doris Hawkins. The last time aerial photography was completed for the county was 1993, and the images needed to be updated, Hawkins said.

It will take a year to complete the project. The images shouldn’t need to be updated for seven or eight years, Hawkins said. The images will be used by several county offices, including the tax and register of deeds offices. They will also be available to the public. When the project is complete, it will be used in conjunction with the new E-911 system. The county is also moving toward Internet maps.

Hawkins updated county commissioners on the status of the project during their regular meeting Monday, and also explained how county departments use Geographic Information Systems software to create detailed maps and gather information about the county and the towns.

GIS combines layers of information about a place together to provide detailed information, and the orthophotography images will add another layer. The county began using GIS in the early 1990’s to help with tax collection, and mapping projects are turned over to the county to be maintained. GIS is used to maintain tax parcels, city limits, emergency service areas and other purposes, Hawkins said. Of the state’s 100 counties, 92 have some type of GIS system. Several county departments use GISmo GIS software, which is a querying and viewing program for maps. They currently use GISmo in several county offices, including the tax, planning, environmental health, natural resources/soil conservation and emergency services offices.

The county has 32 GISmo licenses, and three are available for public use. Many people use GISmo for property research, Hawkins said. There are two located at the tax office and one at the register of deeds office. If a person is comfortable with a computer, they can use the GISmo, Hawkins said.