BY LENA MITCHELL
TUPELO – New county aerial maps to be developed for Lee County tax assessments will be based on a geographic information system to improve accuracy.
Lee County supervisors agreed Monday to use Tri-State Consulting Services of Pell City, Ala., for the service, once contract terms are reviewed and approved by the county attorney.
Several private industry and local government partners have agreed to participate in the $665,000 project for a fee of $10,000 each.
“The digital map will allow us to have a seamless map of the whole county, something we can't do with the aerial photography we have now,” County Tax Assessor Mark Weathers told the board during the presentation.
The partners, meanwhile, can use the base map to locate objects specific to its industry: Tupelo Water and Light can map utility poles, power plants, water and sewer lines; Lee County Schools can map bus routes; real estate agents, properties for sale, and so on.
So far Three Rivers Planning and Development District, Community Development Foundation, Lee County Schools, Tombigbee Power and the city of Tupelo have committed to support the project.
“We're working with several others,” Bell said. “It would mean a reduction in work effort by each of the different entities, preventing the need to create a map from scratch time and time again.”
Lee County is conducting a required 10-year update of its maps, due by January 2007.
Whether digital orthophotography – the process of creating these seamless maps – or traditional aerial photography is used, the process takes several years.
The county spent $200,000 for an aerial photography project of similar magnitude in 1990, Bell said.
This project includes the orthophotography, mapping, soil maps, Internet-Intranet access to data and staff training.
It will take about 21-2 years to complete, with work beginning in January 2004 and completion required no later than Dec. 31, 2006.
County payments will be spread over four years to meet budgeting needs, and partner organizations will pay in two yearly installments of $5,000 each.