By Frank Lewis
The city of Portsmouth has committed to joining several other entities, including Scioto County, in creating and maintaining a Geographic Information System (GIS), and, as a part of that partnership, will fund the city’s portion over the next two years for $25,000 per year.
In a general sense, the term describes any information system that integrates, stores, edits, analyzes, shares, and displays geographic information.
Portsmouth City Manager Derek Allen told Portsmouth City Council Monday night the city has a GIS but does not maintain it. He said there had been an internal position that dealt with updating the system but that person was let go in light of the city’s financial straits. He said, counting wages and benefits, the person was costing the city $47,000.
“At the initiative of the (Southern Ohio) Port Authority (SOPA), in discussing with the county the importance for economic development of having a GIS system that presents a professional appearance online to people looking to establish or move businesses to Scioto County and the inability now to obtain important information led to the county stepping up and deciding it’s time to merge all their different offices into one GIS system,” Allen said. “The county decided to have one site with all different offices on the one site and appointed (Scioto County Engineer) Craig Opperman to oversee that.”
Opperman told the Daily Times six entities will be involved in the system.
“It’s the commissioners, the auditor, the engineer’s office, county sanitary, SOPA is involved and the city of Portsmouth,” Opperman said. “We’ll take everybody’s workload and base it (their cost) on that.”
Allen said he will ask SOPA director Jason Kester to come to Council and make a presentation about the benefits of the GIS.
“One of the things I was commissioned with was to look for deficiencies in county services of services of other agencies,” Allen said. “It makes no sense in us maintaining a GIS system and the county to have a separate GIS system especially since we have water lines that run outside the corporation limits that are prime to what’s going on for economic development down toward Franklin Furnace and Wheelersburg. So it makes sense to have one system.”
He said all entities are excited about the GIS system and the $25,000 per year cost came out of a meeting between Opperman and himself. He went on to say an agreement has not been drafted pending approval of the project by City Council.
“You can click on a parcel and it will have all of the property information,” Allen said. “You’re going to have everything that’s out of the auditor’s office, taxes, all the parcel information. You’re going to have the latest recorder’s information – who owns the property and that information. You’re going to have all the infrastructure, water lines, sewer lines, streets. Those will be in different layers and where we see this going in a couple of years is to have more layers with more information such as law enforcement. You’ll be able to map out runs for the (Scioto County) Sheriff’s office and all the runs for the (Portsmouth) Police Department.”
He said the goal is to make sure the other entities know the city wants to participate.
Opperman, who is attempting to hire someone to come in and work the GIS system, said, by no means, are those involved in the project saying it will be accomplished quickly.
“It’s going to take a long time to build all this information,” Opperman said.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.