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Auditor’s office focused on service

One of the most important functions of the Lawrence County Auditor’s Office is to accurately document every piece of real estate and property improvement in the county.

This information is recorded every year in what is called the tax duplicate, or what is commonly called the “tax base.”

When the tax duplicate is more precise, it means that local property tax levies are spread across a larger tax base, ensuring each property owner is taxed properly.

Our office keeps these annual tax duplicates on file from every year. In fact, we have records all the way back to 1854 right in our office (some years in the 1800’s are missing due to fires and such).

Thanks to technology, we no longer keep the tax duplicate on paper. We use computers to store this information.

With over 55,000 parcels in Lawrence County and no building permit requirements for residential structures, you can imagine what a challenge it can be to find every house or detached garage or in-ground swimming pool in the county.

However, we are implementing new and better technology to more efficiently review and document property improvements to ensure a more exact tax duplicate, and we can use your help.

Recently, we added a function to our website (www.lawrencecountyauditor.org) which enables you to anonymously report property discrepancies on any the parcels in Lawrence County.

Already on a monthly basis, our website has over 100,000 hits from nearly 3,500 unique visitors. This tool will enable the public in general to make sure property is added to the tax duplicate on a timely basis.

In addition to this new web tool, last year I hired a young college graduate with a degree in cartography and GIS technology to help better collect, manage, and report property data with the ultimate goal of perfecting the accuracy of the property values on the tax duplicate in Lawrence County.

I am happy to report that through utilizing his skill with GIS technology combined with the experience and hard work of our staff we have discovered $4,089,340 of unreported property improvements that were not on the tax duplicate for 2011.

Combining this new web reporting tool along with the upgraded technology and know-how we use internally in the Auditor’s Office, we are working together to produce a more precise tax duplicate, ensuring the property tax burden will be applied in a fair manner to all tax payers.

All of us in the Auditor’s Office continue to strive to become more efficient and more accurate with every project we undertake, and rest assured that as your County Auditor, I am committed to leading the way in improving the accuracy of the tax duplicate in Lawrence County.

 

Jason C. Stephens is a Chesapeake native, former county commissioner and currently the Lawrence County Auditor.