At the Chippewa County Board of Commissioners meeting on May 7, Ken Menning, technology manager for the county, approached the board to request permission to spend $8,500 from his budget to update the county Geographic Information System (GIS).
Menning explained that there are two layers of software involved. The first layer, the ArcGIS server, has been updated. As a result, another piece of software the county is using with the server, Web Fusion, is now out of date. The $8,500 would be used to update Web Fusion to a up-to-date program, Link, and to add a few new available features to the GIS system.
Most of the board was open to the suggestion, but David Nordaune of District 3 asked if the process would end up just repeating in the future and bring another unexpected $8,500 bill.
“It’s possible,” Menning said.
“Would it be possible to budget $1,000 a year in expectation to prepare for another update after an eight year lifespan?” Nordaune asked.
“That’s something we can do,” Menning said.
Commissioner Dave Lieser of District 5 was the one dissenting voice.
“I think we are getting hit with a lot of stuff, it just seems like there is one expense after another, which is a problem if we want to keep our (tax) levy down,” he said. “This isn’t something we budgeted for.”
Menning responded by telling the board, “The money is there because I saved it somewhere else.”
Lieser said he felt if money could be saved elsewhere, it should be saved to the end of the year to try and keep expenses down in the long run. “You can’t spend everything,” Lieser said.
The board and Menning discussed the benefits of the GIS system, and what might come if the software was updated.
The GIS system is a service provided by the county to the public and other entities within the county, which maps out the county, cities, and the properties.
It allows residents to view legislative districts, school districts, soil maps, air photos from year to year, property values, tax information, zoning districts and ordinances. It is also used for more advanced practices by county and city offices on a day to day basis.
A feature that can be added with the update is the ability to add the new pictometry aerial photos that are being taken of the county.
When a vote was taken by the board, a motion to spend the money and update the software passed unanimously.
The GIS service can be found at www.co.chippewa.mn.us under the online services tab.