Alexander Graham Bell once said, “Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds”. Cooperation and collaboration are vital to the success of government at all levels. I would like to share some examples of the success the Fulton County Assessment Office has experienced by our partnership with the Fulton County 911 Office.
PTAX-761 “Request for Reduction Due to Destruction”:
In the past, our office proactively sent these to taxpayers that we were personally aware had experienced a loss to their building improvements by accidental means. With the help of the Fulton County 911 office, we were able to get weekly reports of the “rip and run” sheets from area fire departments responding to structure fires. This cooperation allowed our office to provide a much more equitable service to our taxpayers countywide.
In addition to structure fires, our county experiences its share of natural disasters, whether it be flooding, grass fires or most recently, tornadoes. On April 4th, 2023, Fulton County was impacted by multiple tornadoes. Most notably, an EF3 tornado caused widespread destruction across 5 townships. Dozens of families lost their homes and multiple outbuildings. Over 180 parcels were impacted by these storms, with significant structure damage. Our partnership with the 911 Office enabled us to use the storm tracking data and tornado “touch down” and “damage” points from their GIS map to create a spreadsheet of the parcels that were impacted, in order to send out PTAX-761’s. Press releases were also issued in all local newspapers, on social media, the county website and our local radio station. Without our partnership with 911, none of this would have been feasible within the timeframe we had to act.
Location of Unpermitted and Omitted Property:
Our 911 office has been actively verifying and correcting 911 addresses with GIS enabled iPads for the last several years. Who better to assist the 911 office with identifying cabins, dwellings and other structures lacking 911 addresses than the Assessment Office field staff? This “quid pro quo” arrangement allows the Deputy Assessors to drop a location pin from their iPad on structures that most likely need a 911 address assigned to them. Likewise, the 911 office sends us a copy of all requests for 911 addresses in case they are being requested for an unpermitted structure. This cooperation not only enables us to pick up potentially unrealized assessed value, but also makes sure 911 dispatchers have a verified address to send first responders to.
These examples are just a couple of the ways our partnership with the 911 office has had a positive impact, not only on our office’s operations, but also in the services we can provide to our taxpayers. I encourage everyone to have an open dialogue with other local leaders to see what resources are available to you to help serve your taxpayers with even more efficiency and transparency. Your expertise may be the missing puzzle piece that someone else is looking for.
Julie Russell, CIAO-S, is the Supervisor of Assessments in Fulton County. She also serves on the DEI Subcommittee for the IPAI State Conference, is the Chair of Area 2 for the CAOA and serves as the Illinois Chapter of the IAAO Vice President.