The Challenge: Outdated and Inefficient CAMA System
Hillsborough County, located on Florida’s west central coast, is the fourth largest county in the State of Florida. It has a population of more than 1.2 million residents-a growth of two percent per year for the last 10 years. Established in 1834, and named for British Secretary of State for the colonies, the Earl of Hillsborough, it is the largest county in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area. Tampa, the county seat, is the 54th most populous city in the United States.
According to Florida’s Constitution, the Property Appraiser of each county has the responsibility to provide accurate and fair valuation for each of the county’s real estate parcels and tangible personal property accounts. Rob Turner, the elected Property Appraiser, is required by law to annually revalue all of the real estate and all business personal property at 100% of market value in Hillsborough County, a jurisdiction of 525,000 properties. To fulfill these requirements, Turner and his staff of 132 professionals had been relying on an obsolete CAMA system which had undergone many external and internal modifications. “Essentially it was a very limiting and out-dated mainframe system. So prior to the year 2000 we set in motion a process to evaluate the market, so we could improve the system” recalled Turner.
The Selection Process
Before considering a new system for the Property Appraiser’s office, Turner wanted assurance that there would be a broad base of internal agreement among his staff on what the Property Appraiser’s needs were, as well as consensus on the type of system that could meet those needs. “We assembled an evaluation team comprised of members of our IT staff, because we wanted the recommendations and buy-in from individuals who understood software and the various system platforms available,” said Turner. “Other team members represented power users from various departments including: customer service, appraisal, document services and other areas of our office.”
After months of evaluation, the 18 member team came to the conclusion that more than a basic system would be required to meet the Property Appraiser’s needs. “Because of the continuous changes in Florida law-there have been as many as seven property-tax related changes to Florida’s constitution in a single year-the system had to be adaptable and flexible enough to quickly help us be compliant with new rules and regulatory mandates,” said Turner. “We needed an innovative technology-based system that would not only meet our short-term needs, but more importantly, one with flexibility and almost unlimited adaptive capabilities to meet our future needs as well. The system,” added Turner, “also had to be user friendly, adjustable and definitive to handle the property valuations and tax components that property owners expect from a system in a large county like Hillsborough.”
After researching systems and capabilities of a dozen well known suppliers, selections were developed and invitations were sent to six companies to submit bids and make demonstrations on their systems. After evaluating all the presentations and exercising due-diligence, the team’s final selection vote-15 out of 18-was overwhelmingly in favor of installing and deploying Aumentum.