Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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October 17, 2012

Appraisal chief discusses new method to figure taxes

Athens — Henderson County Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Bill Jackson told the Athens Kiwanis of new technology that will give his department access to overhead pictures of all of the properties in the county, and measure the size of structures.

“Pictometry takes pictures of your property, which tells us everything about your property we need to know to tax you,” Jackson said.

Pictometry is an aerial imagery company that not only takes pictures from the top down, but at oblique angles showing the sides of the structures. 

Jackson said new pictures will be shot every three years.

“They will fly over it in a small, single-engine airplane in January,” Jackson said. “They do it then because the leaves are off the trees. These planes are mounted with many cameras.”

Jackson said Pictometry will enable the district to look at many more properties than it could be sending appraisers out to each site.

“And you wouldn’t like the budget, if we did have to put that many boots on the ground,” Jackson said.

Jackson said the Appraisal District serves 33 entities, and handles about 120,000 accounts. The HCAD was about $200,000 under budget in 2012, and that will enable it to purchase the Pictometry program.

“That $200,000 in years past would have been returned to the entities, but the entities agreed we could use it for the purchase of Pictometry, and the new mapping software,” Jackson said.

All of Henderson County’s neighbors are already using the software, with the exception of Anderson County, Jackson said.

Jackson showed the Kiwanis audience photographs of locations in Van Zandt County. He explained that with Pictometry, the shots inside the cities will be sharper in detail than the rural pictures.

Jackson said the state wants his department to visit all of the rural properties for accurate agriculture valuations.

“They want pictures showing that we can justify giving this piece of property this ag valuation,” Jackson said.

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