CHARLESTON - The foundation for a computerized system which would place all the county's information at officials' fingertips with the click of a mouse doesn't come cheap.
Joel Zitterich, GIS project consultant for ProMap Corporation of Ames, Iowa, presented Mississippi County officials with his plan to set up a Geographic Information System for the county during Thursday's county commission meeting. "This is a good first step," he said.
The price tag: $136,000. Zitterich said setting up the system is crucial as an error in the base map will throw off all other data added in the future. "It's not a good place to save a few thousand dollars," he advised.
The system as set up by ProMap is "more than just computerized mapping," he said.
ProMap displays information using a web browser because it is a ready-to-print format and it can also be placed on the Internet "with the flick of a switch," according to Zitterich. Officials have the option of limiting the information available over the Internet with a password feature.
The foundation for the project will be parcel data from the assessor's office, Zitterich said. Once set up, however, the GIS is "only limited by imagination and money."
Using a computer projector, Zitterich clicked and pointed on a GIS map of a similar-sized county as he demonstrated how the system links data to shapes on the computer map.
Clicking on a lot for an example, can bring up pictures and tax information from the assessor's database.
"A GIS is never complete - it's built in layers of information," said Zitterich. Layers can display a wide variety of data for several different departments as well as linking with additional data.
Other counties have added layers with information on roads and bridges, townships, corner certificates, right-of-ways, lots and parcels, water lines, soil surveys, utilities, land valuation, assessment records, and ditch districts among many others.
Zitterich said the proposal includes a payment schedule which would spread the cost of the project out into quarterly payments over a period of three years with no interest.
"We're proposing to do this in 12 months," Zitterich said, but ProMap personnel would stay on-site until the system works and everything matches up correctly.
The result will be a system "tailor-made for your county and what you want to do with this," Zitterich said.
The software also has to be easy for the county to use, Zitterich said. In addition to three days of training by ProMap's Arcview software-certified instructors, the proposal includes six months of technical support via telephone.
If the county decides to extend the technical support contract, it will also automatically come with all updated software tools.
Zitterich recommended a single person be responsible for editing and entering data, "a GIS coordinator."
He predicted that within the next 15 years, most counties will have a GIS office.
In other Mississippi County business Thursday:
* Tax revenues for January and February show sales are down roughly 15 percent in Mississippi County, according to Jim Blumenberg, presiding commissioner.
In the budget, County Clerk Junior DeLay predicted a 18 percent shortfall.
Blumenberg said at this rate, the county will bring in $150,000-$180,000 less in sales tax revenue than in 2001.
Blumenberg said he hopes the new Fred's store in East Prairie "will help offset that some."
* The agency responsible for setting standards for state and local governments has released advice regarding changes in accounting procedures, according to DeLay.
Under the new procedures, the county would inventory and place a value on its infrastructure such as roads and bridges which would then be considered fixed assets with depreciation.
DeLay said this would give financial institutions the ability to compare the financial status of private and public entities.
Officials would also have to determine if road improvements are capitol improvements or maintenance.
DeLay said under the present system of accounting, the county lists items as expenses when purchased instead of assets with depreciating value.
The accounting practices change is not required, but highly recommended, DeLay said, as it may affect eligibility for certain programs.
* DeLay read a copy of the letter sent to Gov. Bob Holden Feb. 14 requesting the Dorena-Hickman Ferry funding not be cut "for a variety of reasons."
Copies of the letter were also sent to state and federal legislators and the Mississippi County Port Authority.
* Commissioners signed off on the funding approval and grant agreement for the Mississippi County Public Water Supply District No. 1's Community Development Block Grant.
* Commissioners approved the annual service agreement with the Mississippi County Tourism Council.