More Cities Using Aerial-Photo Software to Boost Property Tax Revenue

Local governments looking to boost property tax revenue — and improve the accuracy of assessments — are turning to software and more frequent small-plane flyovers.
These planes shoot photos from all directions, which makes changes to properties easier to track and measure, and with “every pixel in the photo geo-referenced, land parcels are easy to identify,” according to a report from Bloomberg.

The article by Bloomberg focuses on aerial measurement company Pictometry International, which developed an angled “oblique” photography method. Pictometry merged with EagleView Technologies, an aerial roof and wall measurement company, in 2013.
Bloomberg: “Pictometry’s 80 Cessnas have shot high-resolution aerial photography in counties that include about 90 percent to 95 percent of the U.S. population, according to Chris Barrow, EagleView’s chief executive officer. The company has clients from every state, more than 1,300 counties in total, he says, and more than 1,700 clients if municipalities and Canada are included.”
Here’s an example of how these flyovers can beef up a city or county’s coffers. Property appraisers in Florida’s Hillsborough County started using aerial photography last year.
They managed to find an entire house that had been left off the tax rolls. A more common type of discovery involved a property that had an unofficial new fireplace chimney.
Hillsborough officials reviewed more than a quarter of the tax roll. The chief of the property appraiser’s office, Bob Henriquez, told Bloomberg that the photos and software added a net of $9.5 million to the value of properties in the area, amounting to about $182,000 in tax revenue to be collected every year.

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