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Town and Village

Town updates tax maps, weighs options on digital access

GUILFORD—As the Listers near completion of the digital version of the town’s outdated parcel maps, they and the Selectboard weighed options for who can gain access to what and how much they should pay for it.

Listers Jeremiah Sund and Andy Cotton have worked closely with Northampton, Mass.-based MainStreetGIS to develop an updated version of Guilford’s tax maps. At the May 9 regular Selectboard meeting, Sund and Cotton presented their progress.

Sund told town officials MainStreetGIS offers two versions of the geographic information systems (GIS) software.

The public version, Sund said, “is basically a stripped-down version,” and provides parcel IDs, addresses, and acreage for all Guilford properties. “There would be no names, no personal information,” Cotton said.

“The Listers are recommending the public version be available on the internet,” Sund said, noting Guilford’s version would have less information than is available on other towns’ GIS maps.

“Most other towns have this resource available,” Town Administrator Katie Buckley told the Board.

The internal version has many more features, Sund said, including the owner’s name, “which wouldn’t be available to the public.”

This version, however, could be available to the public at a terminal in the Town Offices, but only if the Selectboard votes their approval.

Board members, Buckley, and the Listers discussed privacy issues and how to monetize access.

“I’m hesitant to put [this information] on a computer so anybody can look it up,” Board member Dick Clark said.

“Penny [Marine] will lose fees if the internal version is available to the public,” Buckley said, referring to the Town Clerk, who collects money from attorneys needing access to parcel information to perform title searches, for example.

Buckley noted the town took in $3,750 in title-search fees last year.

Sund suggested that, if the town offers attorneys and other title searchers internet access to the internal records, it charge a fee for a password to get into the system.

Emergency Management Director Ron Lenker said that since Guilford taxpayers already paid for the GIS maps through their taxes, they should get free access to the system.

Sund and Board Chair Sheila Morse agreed that because this is new territory for the town to consider, the Listers should conduct further research, including discussing with Marine access, privacy, and fees.

Board members directed the Listers to bring a proposal back to the Board for review.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #358 (Wednesday, May 25, 2016). This story appeared on page D3.

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