Moffat County contracts for GIS map service

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For the last several months, Moffat County GIS technician Nancy Miles has been keeping busy.

However, the work she’s been doing lately isn’t quite what she was hired to do, she said.

“I’m supposed to be drawing and I’ve been helping people,” she said.

With a large oil and gas mineral leasing effort in the county, Miles is fielding more and more phone calls seeking information about the boundaries of residents’ properties.

At her office in the Moffat County Courthouse, Miles has access to such records at her fingertips. She has built a geographical information system to house the variety of county information, so much that just distributing it keeps her busy.

“People call and ask me for maps and they call and ask me who owns the properties around a certain place,” she said. “Because we don’t have it on the Internet, people will call me and ask me for a map, and I’ll create a map, save it as a PDF file and I’ll e-mail those out to people.”

She does that process three to five times a day, she said.

But, that could soon change.

The Moffat County Commission approved Tuesday an agreement with The Sidwell Company to develop and provide an online GIS map for the county in partnership with Rio Blanco County, which is hosting the county’s data.

Moffat County agreed to pay $3,995 for the services, according to the contract.

The information available on the GIS system will be presented in an interactive format and will show land parcel information, legal descriptions, acreage, addresses, roads and other various definitions, said Mason Siedschlaw, Moffat County information technology director.

“You’ll have an aerial photography view of the terrain features, whether it is terrain features or just kind of the grid outline,” he said. “What we are working on with the assessor’s office is the information that we are going to overlay on the top of that aerial image.”

Siedschlaw said other data besides basic property information that could be tied into the map is still being considered and developed. But, the possibilities are “almost endless,” he said.

“A lot of cities will use it to map underground sewer lines — it is unbelievable the amount of layers you can put into it,” he said. “Obviously, that kind of stuff is outside of the scope of what we are going to do with it.”

Miles said mineral ownership records would be something the county wouldn’t be able to put in a layer for the foreseeable future due to the large amount of information tied to it and because there are many more divisions of mineral parcels than land parcels.

Commissioner Tom Gray said the map would help the county capitalize on new technology and “better serve our citizens.”

“(It will) reduce foot and phone traffic in the offices,” he said. “If you can get information online rather than have to come in and get it, that’s efficiency, and that’s why I think it is a good thing.”

Gray noted he has “good assurance” the county is “not buying into something that is going to cost a whole ton in the end.”

“Any time that it ceases to be a workable situation, we can withdraw and go back to the way it was,” he said. “We’re not really on the hook for something else.”

Moffat County Surveyor Peter Epp previously eyed developing a county land parcel-based GIS mapping system. However, Epp said he fully supports the county’s decision to partner with Rio Blanco County.

“It seems like it is a good thing to do because it will put the plots online at a minimal cost, and I guess what I was hoping to do will be accomplished,” he said.

Commissioner Audrey Danner said the decision to sign the contract and go forward with the project was an easy one.

“That has been our intention for a couple of years of how do we electronically provide information and help departments be more efficient in how they talk to each other,” she said.

Danner said the GIS map fits within the county’s goal of providing more information online.

“It is just a better way of accessing complete information,” she said.

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