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Williamson County Hiring Company To Photograph Every Home, Business

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 09:47 PM CDT

Photographing every building in Williamson County: that’s the Central Appraisal District’s goal as they take pictures of roughly 140,000 homes and businesses in the county. It’s the second time they’ve done it; the last time was in 2005. The district is a month into the four-month-long process of validating addresses.

“If we threw all of our appraisers in one year at this, we would not be able to do any other work,” said Alvin Lankford, Chief Appraiser at Williamson Central Appraisal District.

Hiring an outside company to take digital photos in Williamson County, the only option to get the project done, say officials.

“To visit every property and actually measure it, it would take one of our appraisers at a minimum of 10 years to complete,“ says Lankford.

The district says they take new photos every four to six years to validate property addresses, have a complete inventory of addresses, and improve the quality of the appraisals.

“This is the first I heard of it,” said Charles Rivers, a Georgetown resident. “Why does an appraisal district need photos of a house?”

The district uses the photos to settle appraisal protests from homeowners.

“We’re able to show them the other comparable properties we’re using to value their property with instead of driving up and down their street,” said Lankford.

It’ll cost the district just over $300,000, or about $2.20 a photo, which includes all labor costs. It’s taxpayer money, paid for from leftover budget money. One concern we heard from Rivers and other homeowners: why pay for the service when images are available on services like Google Earth or Google Street View?

“Google is not detailed enough, nor do they have a periodic update scheduled that’s definite throughout the industry,” said Lankford. “We’re not able to ascertain how accurate the pictures are, how old the pictures are.”

Lankford says the photos will not be posted online, which is prohibited by state law, though Lankford says the district hopes to change that rule. WCAD also takes aerial photos once a year to help with identifying improvements, which they say often results in higher appraisal values and helps emergency crews.

By Adam BennettWilliamson County Hiring Company To Photograph Every Home, Business


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