THOMSON - A plan more than 10 years in the making will finally become reality later this year.
Thomson and McDuffie County officials have struck an agreement to share funding costs for a Geographical Information System that will allow zoning and tax information to be widely accessible via an online database.
The Regional Development Commission - the agency in charge of maintaining the system - will "initiate, survey, research, digitize and format geographical information so that it can be presented to the city, county, and general public," said McDuffie County Planning Commission Director Fred Guerrant.
The system will contain a vast amount of information, allowing city and county officials a way to instantly access figures that were previously available only in file cabinets.
With the new system, the city and county will have a Web site with complete details on land parcels, down to every square foot of the land in the county. Through this public Web site, users will be able to determine zoning status, property tax amounts, water line information, and much more.
Guerrant said it would certainly help out of town developers gauge whether they were interested in pursuing commercial development in McDuffie County.
"It will be a tremendous help to the city and the county," said Thomson City Administrator Bob Flanders. "We both have tax parcels that we have to deal with on almost an everyday basis."
The GIS plan has been in development in McDuffie County for more than 10 years, with an estimated $300,000 spent to date on developing the project, according to Guerrant. It will cost nearly $60,000 for the initial phase of the project, as city and county officials are still hammering out the specifics of a yearly maintenance fee payable to the RDC.
In Columbia County, the system has been instrumental in county development.
"It's incredible and I don't know how we do without it," said GIS Specialist for Columbia County Lee Hartley. "The Internet page is very helpful, as it gives sales history, zoning, and pretty much all the information you'd want that's not person to person."
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