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FLORENCE — Pinal County government has been using Pictometry since 2017 to see buildings without employees having to visit in person.

It is a patented aerial image capture process, using a low-flying aircraft, that shows the fronts and sides of buildings. It’s been a labor-saving device in the Assessor’s Office, and other county departments have found it useful as well, Pinal County Assessor Douglas Wolf told the Pinal County Board of Supervisors Wednesday.

The board postponed its approval of a Pictometry upgrade, at a cost of $531,764, for further information Wednesday. Supervisor Kevin Cavanaugh, R-Coolidge, made the motion and asked to hear more about it at the board’s Sept. 29 meeting. His motion passed 4-1, with Supervisor Jeff McClure, R-Eagle Crest Ranch, voting no.

Wolf said the technology provides three-dimensional images of all the buildings that his office surveys. Google Earth doesn’t work as well because it doesn’t provide side views. Pictometry has “been well-used, every day, for the past four years,” Wolf told the board.

Cavanaugh asked how much extra tax revenue the county has collected thanks to Pictometry. Wolf replied that’s hard to say, although the next flyover will show buildings the county may have missed. Cavanaugh further asked how many dollars in assessed value would the county have to find before the program paid for itself.

Wolf couldn’t immediately say, but said his staff could supply the figure later. He added, “We are government, and not everything we do can be captured as return on investment, in terms of dollars and cents. This is a service everyone is using, so to quantify how much Public Works gets out of it, or the 911 people at the Sheriff’s Office, or Community Development and so on, it’s an intangible that we can’t really put a number on.”

Several other counties were ahead of Pinal in adopting the technology. State law used to require the assessor to visit new construction to put it on the tax rolls. “Through the use of this technology, we can actually measure the buildings from the imagery, which allows us to add it to the tax roll without sending a person out to the field, which is nice,” Wolf said.

Wolf said he asked the vendor to make it available to law enforcement for 911 calls, flood control, Public Works, “all kinds of other services.” Cities are also asking for the images for their planning purposes, although the county has yet to complete contracts for that to occur. The expense comes out of the county’s General Fund, not the assessor’s budget.

Also Wednesday, the board renewed Pinal’s agreement with the Arizona Association of County School Superintendents over Cavanaugh’s “no” vote. The agreement is for 10 years, and Cavanaugh said he wasn’t comfortable binding future supervisors to it.

Supervisor McClure said he had seen the association work as a school board member and moved to approve it. Cavanaugh moved to amend the motion to limit the agreement to four years, but his motion died for lack of a second.

Pinal School Superintendent Jill Broussard told the board the county’s association with the Arizona Association of County School Superintendents saves money and provides services that local districts would have to find elsewhere. The group employs a lobbyist who works on behalf of schools and offers other benefits and advantages, she said.

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.