USA – “This is perhaps one of the most important tools available to municipalities today, and if used effectively, it can help deliver a broad range of services more efficiently and at lower costs,” said Mayor Matt Ryan. “Rather than create redundant services, we opened talks with County representatives and decided to pool together our resources to bolster the capacity that already exists at the County level. This is a cost-effective approach that’ll benefit taxpayers at the front and back ends, and I thank our partners at the County for moving forward with this reform.”
The City has been working with a private contractor for the last twenty months to digitize and update the city’s tax maps, an important first step in preparing for GIS capabilities. With the project in its final phases, city officials were left with two options: either hire a new GIS administrator or tap the expertise already present at the County. After a series of meeting between County and City officials last October, all parties agreed to move forward with consolidation.
“The consolidation of GIS and mapping services between the City and County, and an internal restructuring that will bring similar functions together in one location and advance our operations using this technology,” stated County Executive Barbara Fiala. “Not only will this restructuring alleviate existing deficiencies in GIS service provision, base map maintenance, and 911 addressing, but it will also establish a strong foundation upon which other initiatives can be built such as countywide code enforcement, assessment, and crime mapping.”
Previously, the County had a sole GIS administrator and a tax map technician that worked out of the Real Property Office. Talks between the County, City and County Emergency Services resulted in a creative funding structure that enables the County to re-organize resources around a new GIS Division in the County Planning Department, boosting current capacity by more than 300%. The new Division includes a total of four employees that are contracted for three years to complete the GIS build out.
“Running a city without GIS is like running a business without using the internet,” said Mayor Ryan. “This planning tool can help with crime prevention, economic development, code enforcement, capital planning, and emergency response, and everybody at the table recognized we had an important opportunity to address a whole range of provincial needs with one, comprehensive solution.”
Per the agreement, the City will pay the County $40,000 annually for 50 hours per week of dedicated service, including crime mapping, tax parcel maintenance, and general GIS technical assistance. The three-year agreement includes an annual increase of 3%. The City intends to pay the County from a variety of sources:
- $20,000 Operation Impact Grant (State Grant)
- $10,000 General Fund
- $5,000 Water/Sewer Fund
- $5,000 CDBG, Planning Services
In addition, Broome County will expend $71,356 dollars on the new division. Broome County Economic Development has identified $30,000 for GIS upgrades and the County Planning Department which houses the division will contribute $10,759. Emergency Services has committed $35,000 toward the restructuring to complete new 911 addressing. Until now, there has been no single authority with responsibility for 911 address assignment and maintenance in the County, and consolidating this to one entity will deal logically with a lingering public safety issue and improve coordination among first responders during emergencies.
“This has the capacity to help our department greatly,” said Police Chief Joe Zikuski. “GIS mapping can show us when and where crime is most prevalent which will allow us to mobilize our resources more efficiently and effectively.”
The intermunicipal agreement required approval from both the City Council and County Legislature. The Council granted its approval in March, and the Broome County Legislature accepted the agreement in April.