County OKs tax record software

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Blair County will move forward with efforts to computerize information of its paper-based tax assessment records.

Commissioners voted Tuesday to pay $97,857 to Evaluator Services and Technology Inc. of Greensburg to convert the information and use it to design, install, convert and customize a tax administration and tax billing system. When finished, property tax records will be computerized on a system to generate property tax bills starting in March 2015.

While commissioners have been interested in this project for several years, Tuesday’s vote puts the county another step closer to its first countywide property reassessment since 1958. The $97,857 cost of setting up the system to manage the computerized property tax records will be paid for with money included in a 2011 bond issue.

After reviewing the proposed contract with EST Inc., solicitor Nathan Karn told commissioners that he recommended including a deadline for the computer server and software to be ready for use and staff training.

EST Inc. owner Gene Porterfield said the tax administration portion will be ready for use as soon as possible in light of the county’s related pilot project to create a consolidated database of property information available in the assessment office and 911 center.

Porterfield also said he expects the server and software to be ready for use weeks before the Sept. 1 deadline written into the contract. But Porterfield offered no protest to Karn’s recommendation.

“I’ve had some crazy things happen to me with software installation,” Porterfield said.

Commissioner Diane Meling suggested creating a committee to regularly meet with Porterfield and follow the progress of the project. She also said the committee will look into arrangements for the scanning of all property tax records now on paper. Porterfield said that’s typically done during weekends, in stages, so tax records always remain available for use.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.