Check the aerial maps of Boone County online and you’ll find some glaring discrepancies between the photos and what’s really out there.
Zoom in on the area where Bass Pro Shops stands, for example, and you’ll see the new streets, but none of the buildings that have sprouted in recent years. Along Old 63 in south Columbia, only one of the several student apartment complexes that have recently developed is included in the aerial images. Forest covers the bulk of the surrounding land.
That’s why Boone County Assessor Tom Schauwecker wants to spend $150,000 from his office’s 2007 budget to take new aerial pictures. It’s a long overdue retake that will show subdivisions and new buildings that didn’t exist five years ago, the last time aerial photographs were taken, he said.
The prints will be paid for out of the office’s assessment fund. But Schauwecker said he isn’t worried about the bill. The fund is healthy, he said, because “extraordinary growth” over the past 16 years has taken the unreserved fund balance from $100,000 to $1.1 million.
The assessor is asking the Boone County Commission for permission to use the money.
“The assessment fund has its own checking account separate from (Boone County),” Schauwecker said after a work session Monday. “It’s an easy budget hearing for the commission.”
The assessor isn’t doing all the work alone, Schauwecker said. The city of Columbia and Boone County will cooperate in a “way that will reduce cost. Hopefully, by bidding it together, we should get a better price and a better quality product,” Schauwecker said.
The photos are used for mapping individual properties so the assessor’s office can legally describe privately owned properties to land speculators and the county.
“There are about 60,000 (different properties),” in Boone County and “we need to see the land, and the best way we can do that is from the air,” said Jeff Davis, a cartographer from the assessor’s office.
The maps also serve as an inventory to ensure every piece of real estate is taxed, Schauwecker said.
If Schauwecker’s proposed budget is approved, he hopes to have a contract for new aerial photography by March.
“I’d love to fly along myself,” he said.