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County considers making more property information available for free

By Bob Steenson,

Access to more property and property tax information could become available for free in Floyd County.

The county Board of Supervisors at a meeting Monday morning discussed the possibility of switching host companies for property, property tax and graphic information system (GIS) access to the County Assessor’s Office.

Currently Floyd County is one of the few counties in the state that charges for access to some of this information. The annual price for access charged to businesses or individuals is $420. Paid access is also available by the day, week or month.

A lot of the information currently available through the county’s service provider, Beacon, is already free. People can look up property information on current and previous ownership, valuations, specific information about structures on the property, previous property taxes charged and paid, and more.

Additional information available for a fee includes the ability to search for property by the owner’s name, sales data, soil information, maps including topography and soil maps and some other information that is valuable to some businesses.

Brandi Schmidt, deputy county assessor, and Gary VanderWerf, county assessor, said changing to Vanguard Appraisals Inc. as the website host would increase the usability of the site for the Assessor’s Office.

The county currently receives an average of about $8,500 a year in revenue from the site fees. The cost to have Vanguard host the site instead of Beacon would be so much less that it would cost the county only about $320 per year to be able to make all the information available for free.

The supervisors took no action on the proposal Monday, but they indicated they were in favor of being able to offer the site services for free.

Also at the meeting:

• The supervisors continued to work through contract approval and potential change orders for the law enforcement center and courthouse updates project. They approved a contract with Schindler Elevator Corp. of Des Moines for $231,130, and approved a potential change order with Mid-West Roofing Co. of Mason City for a reduction in cost of $9,000 to install a black-colored synthetic rubber roofing material instead of a white material.

• The supervisors learned from Bob Lincoln, chief executive officer of County Social Services (CSS), that CSS would continue to manage general assistance applications for those counties that had been getting service from CSS, now that all county employees who worked at CSS are now becoming employees of CSS.