USA – Boundary Solutions, Inc. will facilitate a panel at IAAO 2008 Reno September 8, 2008 that will examine the economic impact broad use of digital parcel maps has on the local tax base. Total assessed value of all parcels within 440 counties that have a digital parcel map were assembled and combined with their parcel count and data licensing fee. These listings were split up in two groups. Counties with data subscription fees less than $250 being considered PRA noncompliant (open records) and the rest PRA noncompliant (closed records).
Below, the first chart shows that PRA compliant counties enjoyed a faster growth rate in total valuation during the study period. In the second chart, the total assessed value was divided by the number of counties in each sample to compare the (mean) “average” total assessed value growth in $1,000,000 (millions). Applying an average millage rate of 0.013 reveals an increase in tax levy for the average PRA compliant county by the fifth year to be over $12 million higher than the average noncompliant county. For a large county like Wayne, MI this means that over $170 million extra property tax dollars could have been collected if an open record rather than closed record data sharing policy had been in place.
According to Dennis H. Klein, BSI CEO, “BSI has been conducting panels and publishing papers advancing theories about why open records stimulate the local economy, generating increased local tax dollars that dwarf possible revenue from data fees. This study has revealed a robust correlation between broad use of digital parcel maps and a significant bump in tax base growth. BSI therefore urges data sponsors to use these findings at budget time to attain funding for all their long deferred operational and administration improvements critical to the continued quality of the very digital parcel maps causing this bump.” ( you can download the Powerpoint presentation here ).
Dr. Larry A. Rosenthal, JD PhD, director of UC Berkeley’s Program on Housing and Urban Policy and adjunct professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy, consulted with BSI on the study.
Rosenthal stated, “For years BSI has been promoting the tax-revenue benefits of open records, and these preliminary findings are quite impressive. It does appear there may be substantial differences in property tax-base growth, depending upon the extent of access to digital parcel records by all sectors. The industry, as well as federal, state, and local government officials, should stay tuned to BSI’s continuing research in this area.” Rosenthal will continue collaborating with BSI on the work to be presented at the upcoming IAAO conference.
According to BSI’s National ParcelMap Data Portal metadata database, the time period of this study reflects the first five years that many PRA compliant counties had a digital parcel map to share. Arguably, tax base growth increased each year, in part, due to ever broader use of the digital parcel layer. Counties with no map have something in common with PRA noncompliant counties – – digital parcel maps are not being broadly used due to a lack of availability. Hence, the production and maintenance of a countywide digital parcel map could be paid for from the subsequent bump in the local tax base caused by its broad use.