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County board decision could signal improved view of economy

OLIVIA -- Are we starting to regain some confidence in the economy?

We might get a sense of our attitude next Tuesday, when the Renville County board of commissioners decides whether or not to purchase a three-year contract with the Pictometry company.

Although the funds to do so were available, and the commissioners were certainly interested, they opted to postpone a decision on purchasing the service last December. The commissioners had expressed their uncertainty about the economy in deciding to hold off.

The matter came back on the table for discussion at their meeting on Tuesday, and this time the commissioners indicated an interest in purchasing the service. They will decide one way or the other next Tuesday.

County Recorder Gail Miller and Sheriff Jerry Agre said the service remains available to the county for a three-year contract price of $73,958.38, taxes included.

If approved, Pictometry, of Rochester, New York, would conduct reconnaissance flights to capture highly-detailed photographs of the entire county, including all of the communities. Computers allow the aerial photographs to be over-laid on to zoning and boundary maps. They can also be called up in an instant when fire fighters or law enforcement agencies need to find an address or location in an emergency.

A decision is needed now on purchasing the service so that the aerial photographs can be taken before the spring green up obscures the view of buildings.

Sheriff Agre said the county has E-911 funds available to cover the costs of the project in the first year, or roughly $24,000. The county would tap its compliance fund monies, generated mainly by the fees charged by the county's assessor and recorder's offices, to cover the second and third years of the contract.

In tabling the action last December, the commissioners had expressed concerns about the overall economy and whether property transactions and other fees generating activities would continue at the expected pace in county offices.