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Supervisors Sign On Dotted Line For County GIS Project

By Staff | Jan 6, 2009

Palo Alto County Supervisors capped off 2008 by accepting a pair of resignations and approving a contract for the county’s entrance into a Geographic Information System. The final meeting of the year took place on Tuesday, Dec. 30.

With appointments to various committees and boards to be made in a few days, the supervisors were presented with resignations from two appointees. The first resignation was from Phillip Kacmarynski, a trustee for Ellington Township. Kacmarynski indicated a desire to step down from his position. Supervisor Keith Wirtz noted that he had been in contact with a couple of individuals in regards to the position, but had no commitments.

Palo Alto County Auditor Gary Leonard reported that he had spoken with the trustees, who were going to meet to address the vacancy as well and report back to the Supervisors. With that, Kacmarynski’s resignation was accepted on a unanimous vote.

“We also have a resignation from Bonnie Anliker from her position as the representative on Western Iowa Tourism,” Leonard reported. “She’s been our representative for a long time and she’s really done a good job for us, but she wants to step down.”

“Bonnie has done a great job for the county,” agreed Board Chair Leo Goeders as the board accepted the resignation with regrets.

The board will fill both vacancies as soon as possible.

In other business, the supervisors met with Palo Alto County Assessor Lois Naig and Sara Underhill, a representative for the Schneider Company, the firm that will be doing the county’s Geographic Information System (GIS) work. Naig had some questions on the contract with Schneider that she and the board wanted to address with the Schneider representative prior to entering into the official contract for service.

The first question revolved around the amount of time the GIS work, including the initial flyover and aerial photography would take.

“We will be doing one township at a time,” Underhill explained. “Once we have a township completed, we will give you the information to check over and you will have 90 days to do that. As far as exact hours it will take to complete the flyover and photography, I can’t tell you. It will depend on the weather and conditions in the spring.”

Naig asked about a line in the contract regarding the ownership of data used to create the various components of the GIS system. “The contract says that all information will remain the property of Schneider, and I think that the information should be the property of the county,” the assessor said.

Underhill explained that was the intent of the contract, as the information provided by the county would remain the county’s property. “What that section of the contract refers too is proprietary software that we use to create the maps themselves, not the information on titles or anything you provide us.”

Naig questioned a portion of the contract that said the county would provide information to Schneider. “Does that mean you want us to do the copying and such?”

“No, our staff people will do the actual scanning of your documents,” Underhill answered. “Your people might have to help us get the right books, but we’ll do the rest.”

“How long does it actually take to compile all this information?” asked Gary Leonard.

“Our staff is pretty good at what they do,” Underhill said. “Past experience has been about six to nine months for a project like this.”

Underhill said the way the project was initially being planned was for all photography to be completed and returned to Schneider by August of 2009, and the first township to be completed in November. “We’re estimating we’ll have the project done in June of 2010.”

Naig expressed some concerns over Schneider’s charges for website hosting for the project, noting that another website was available at a lower cost.

“Compared to the total cost of this project, this isn’t a major cost,” Supervisor Ed Noonan said. “If we’re going to buy a Cadillac, we’d just as well buy it with air conditioning.”

Underhill noted that her firm was planning a great deal of hands-on training for county staffers to use the GIS system and information, as well as being able to update and enter new information once the system was operational. “We’re not going to deliver this and run away. We will have service after the sale for you.”

“I guess I agree with Ed,” noted Supervisor Jerry Hofstad. “We need the air conditioning.”

“If our goal is to make it easier for everyone to use, we need to have the information,” agreed Wirtz.

Underhill offered a reduction of $1,000 for the cost of the website, which prompted a motion from Supervisor Ron Graettinger to enter into the contract with the agreed on changes. The motion was passed unanimously, with Naig and Robin Jamison to act as the county’s representatives to work with Schneider on the project.