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7 Organization and Budget for a Multipurpose Cadastre The Committee on Geodesy report (1980) explained the importance of building a system of cadastral records to serve each locality in the United States. We reiterate the recommendations in the Committee on Geodesy (1980) report for actions to be taken by local, state, and federal governments to organize the development of a multipurpose cadastre for each locality in the United States. In particular, we recommend that states enact legislation to ensure the compatibility of county and local records with the multipurpose cadastre. Chapters 2 through 6 of this report have described procedures and standards for upgrading each of the components of a multipurpose cadastre and ensuring that they will fit together into a coordinated system, with constant updating thereafter. The activities that are served by a multipurpose cadastre, whether governmental or private, occur mostly in the same locality as the properties that are described. The governmental functions listed in Chapter 5 as either sources or users of land data typically are parts of county government. We recommend that the cadastre be organized as a function of county government in most localities in the United States, the exceptions being where municipalities assume responsibility for all or major parts of the governmental functions that are users of the records.
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7.1 FACTORS THAT SHAPE THE LOCAL CADASTRAL RECORD SYSTEM The arrangements for maintaining a multipurpose cadastre among the offices of a county or municipal government will vary as much as does the structure of those governments. The tasks of developing and operating a new level of technical operations will be assigned differently among the agencies of the local government, depending on such factors as the scope of authority provided in state-enabling legislation, the year in which the new system is designed, the resources available at that time to each of the several local agencies involved, and various other factors described in the following paragraphs. The differences in organizations should not prevent the local offices from meeting statewide standards for the contents and the operations of the multipurpose cadastre, as long as the latter are known and understood. 7.1.1 The Issue of Centralization: Operations versus Control For efficient management of an information and record-keeping system, the management personnel of the user agencies must be involved. For a multipurpose cadastre, this means building links among three or four of the separate divisions of county or municipal government listed in Section 5.1. Perhaps the simplest arrangement for involving all these agencies is to assign the operation of the cadastre to the central administrative office, close to the chief executive. Most of the cadastres of West Germany, for example, are operated by the state finance ministries, in part owing to their importance in the taxation system. In local governments in the United States the need for a broader and more efficient system of land records is being felt more immediately by the management of the user agencies than it is by the general public. Prior to the assignment of the development of the cadastre to a central administrative office and the gathering of the necessary public and financial support thereof, a consortium of county-operating agencies should initiate design of the cadastre elements. Where an information system depends on cooperation among several suppliers of information to adhere to common standards and procedures, then it is helpful if each participant carries responsibilities for maintaining parts of the system that are in the same relative proportion as his or her need for the overall common results. The four most likely user agencies to be served by a successful local land-data system, according to a poll of expert opinion in February 1982, are the assessor, the planning department, the deed recorder, and the county or city engineer (Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 1982). Other important users are listed in Section 5.1. As recently as the early 1970’s, the economics of data processing appeared to dictate that information systems be integrated for each district and operated from a central location. With the technology of microprocessing, this is no longer a given.
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However, the decision as to how best to distribute an information system among several major participants takes on several dimensions. The technology of “distributed data processing” provides only one of many options available and is not likely to be the most appropriate for many counties. Such a system is understood by data processors to have only the equipment decentralized. Control of computer operations remains tightly integrated, and much of the control itself is automated. This involves a much higher level of automation and control than will be appropriate for most county cadastres, many of which will continue to rely heavily on manual procedures for years to come. The possibility of decentralizing the control of the use of the components of the data system among the participating agencies is a more relevant issue for most counties. The traditional model for computerized files is to have a common set of user priorities with which all must comply, administered by a data-processing agency, typically using a central mainframe computer. At the other extreme, the automation of the assessor’s files in Toledo-Lucas County, Ohio, is proceeding with several microcomputers that cost a few thousand dollars each, with one staff person assigned to manage all the assessor’s records for each of the several sectors of the city using his or her dedicated microcomputer. Data output can still be provided quickly to any of a variety of users, in machine-readable form if needed. However, the process of obtaining it obviously is highly decentralized. Nevertheless, the selection of software, and control of formats of data in the files, is best done centrally among the participants in the cadastral record system. This will be essential if data are to be shared among the participants in an on-line mode. Otherwise, if each of the participants controls his or her own software, then exchanges of data can only be done in a batch mode, for example, by generating tapes of the desired data periodically for each of the other users. The latter would be necessary to allow for reformatting of the data for the user’s different software, when it is transferred from the common source file onto a tape for the specific user. Whatever the configuration of the system, the data in each independent file must contain a common spatial reference. Too much decentralization of the control of data definitions and quality standards can be seen as one of the major problems of local cadastral records as they exist today. We recommend that a central office in the government of each county (or major city, where appropriate) be assigned the responsibility for managing the development of the systems of maps and filex that will comprise the multipurpose cadastre for that locality and for compiling the common set of standards for definitions of data elements, file formats, accuracy, frequency of updating, and completeness of the records. Leadership in the area of Land-Information Systems should be assigned either to a new agency designed for that purpose or to an existing agency that is capable of providing it. The central management should be seen as a permanent function to enforce continued adherence to the standards of data quality and to provide leadership
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in working out future stages of improvements in the system. These roles will be especially important where the development work itself is dispersed among user agencies. In localities where the four major user agencies listed above are split between the county and municipality, for example, the issues of organizing the multipurpose cadastre become rather complex and probably will require a political resolution at the state level. The locations of the property-assessment function can be expected to set the overall pattern of responsibilities for the development of the new system, considering the European experiences and also the amount of effort currently being expended to modernize property-assessment files. In the New England states, where property assessment is split among as many as 40 or more cities and towns making up a single county, a multipurpose cadastre may be feasible only in the larger cities or for a county through intermunicipal agreements. 7.1.2 The Politics of Changing Local Systems Organization of a multipurpose cadastre represents at least two fundamental changes in the general operating style of a local government. First, it is a recognition that the scope of responsibilities of the agencies of local government, taken together, has expanded to cover the total environment, and thus all of the land in its districts. Clerks who formerly kept records for use within their own offices become accountable for elements of the definitive land-record system of the district and may no longer be able to keep track of how and where their data are used. Second, it normally means the introduction of new technology into the local operations, with corresponding shifts in work loads, responsibilities, and skills required for individual jobs. The managers of the conversion process need to see themselves as agents of technological and institutional change. The sharing of data that is assumed in the use of a multipurpose cadastre may lead to realignments of functions among the user agencies. If most of their functions already are automated, then the design of the new procedures for the multipurpose cadastre at least provides the occasion for review of the coding logic of the participating agencies. Some of the agents of change will be operating outside of the county government. State legislatures will be involved in authorizing county agencies to carry out certain cadastral functions that may not be authorized at present. Typically, this is a matter of responding to initiatives of local officials who have drafted the bills that would provide them with the authority they seek. The courts may be the ultimate agencies of institutional change in mandating the modernization of land-data systems, as they have been in so many other aspects of governmcnt in the United States. State constitutions typically require the updating of the assessed values that determine the distribution of real estate taxes at least every
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few years, and enforcement of this requirement often depends on the courts. Even an annual updating of property characteristics hardly seems enough to justify investing in a multipurpose cadastre. However, the most economical means of accomplishing it may be through a continuous updating of records as transactions occur, in a cadastral data system supported jointly with the other major users in the county. 7.2 POTENTIAL ROLES OF OTHER PARTICIPANTS OUTSIDE THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT The potential roles of each of the five types of participants listed below should be studied carefully in the planning for development of a multipurpose cadastre. Few generalizations about them can be made here, because the sorting out of the functions of governmental services among these participants varies from one state to the next and among different sizes and types of communities within each state. 7.2.1 Intergovernmental Arrangements within the Region Where the function of assessment of values of properties for taxation resides with the municipality, then this will likely be the most feasible location for the central management of the cadastral records system, as mentioned earlier. Many of the cities and towns in this situation find themselves with limited technical resources to develop and maintain the necessary systems of maps. Most of them must rely on the county deed recorder for ownership records. In these situations, the development of the multipurpose cadastre must be a joint effort of the county and the city or town. Some regional agencies have assumed the function of maintaining land-parcel records for users in a multicounty district. Most regional planning agencies are eager to foster the development of multipurpose cadastres in their districts to help provide for their own information needs. The regional agency may be the best location of the technical assistance staff needed to coach the staffs of both the suppliers and the users of the cadastral records during the development process. 7.2.2 Private Data Bases in the Locality Private enterprises that maintain files of land data will be important consumers of the data provided by a multipurpose cadastre but are unlikely to be suppliers, except when they operate as the equivalent of paid vendors under contract. If a private firm can justify an investment in obtaining and keeping a file of land data, then it is a corporate asset that affects the future profitability of the firm. Forest-products companies, the real estate industry, and utilities are examples. Because their data may be better and give them competitive advantages, they often become a vested interest against improvement of public data.
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There are some private firms that operate as both consumers and suppliers of local government data, and for them some quid pro quo cooperative arrangements may be possible. A gas company may provide the detailed locations of its underground lines if it can then be given preferential access to the mapping system that records them along with the other underground facilities. Such public-private cooperative arrangements have been difficult to organize and even more difficult to maintain on a continuing basis. The members of the panel are aware of only one such arrangement that has survived, the Regional Mapping and Land Records (RMLR) Program described in Appendix A.4, which is still in its developmental stages. Elsewhere, ad hoc arrangements among utility companies to permit access to each other’s maps by a third party at only the necessary locations seem to be as far as the companies will go in shared use of their land records. The function of assuring the status of land ownership may continue to be performed by private attorneys and title insurance companies in the United States, regardless of the efficiencies of government-operated title-registration systems in many other countries. The report of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), published at the conclusion of its four-year study of methods to improve land-title recordation and registration (Office of Policy Development and Research, 1981), states on page V-26: … conventional recording systems will no doubt remain the principal method of storing and recording land title documents, whatever the merits of registration systems, and, therefore, improvements are most likely to occur in conventional systems. Nevertheless, the private-land-title industry is totally dependent on legal requirements for filing of records of title transfers with a public office as the means of generating most of the ownership records. The private companies also may use the indexing services of the public office to find the relevant records, to varying degrees, depending on whether an alternative private “title plant” is available to the firm in that locality. As a vehicle for improving these public indexing services, in the interests of controlling the costs of buying a home, the HUD report cited above recommends adoption by state governments of the model statute known as the Uniform Simplification of Land Transfers Act (USLTA), prepared by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (1977). Among the several important features of this model legislation, the one listed first in the HUD report is parcel indexing, which has long been in use as the most efficient system for accessing documents in private title plants and in many jurisdictions where the Public Land Survey System exists. An up-to-date cadastral overlay such as described in this report is the key to maintaining such an index. The USLTA was criticized shortly following its adoption in 1977 for its lack of simplified, standard procedures for land-title recording beyond the provision of a geographic index (Pedowitz, 1978). A broader model statute for a multipurpose cadastre is needed (Cook, 1982).
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7.2.3 State Operating Agencies State agencies rely on local governments to provide the basic maps and records for pursuing a variety of programs, examples being site selection for public facilities, approval of environmental protection permits, and review of planning for a stateaided program. States also are concerned with equalization of real-property assessments, so that state formula grants to local governments can be equitable when they are tied to local tax effort and need. However, one of the unfortunate breakdowns in the system of public records on land in this country is that the state operating agencies do not then use and support the record systems of the local government for keeping track of their actions. Typically, the environmental protection permits remain indexed by date or case number on the state agency’s file, with no routine reference in the local files. The wealth of data assembled in environmental impact statements lies fallow after the decision in the same manner. Expensive, large-scale topographic mapping for design of a highway is oriented only for use in that job and not as an update of parts of the map system for that locality. Lacking a procedure for keeping the records, there is seldom any requirement that the state agency file “as-built” plans showing where the new facility actually was constructed. Those who need this detailed information must rely on the plans showing where it was intended to be built, if they can be found. State operating agencies are among the largest land owners. The quality and completeness of their records on the public land are important to the other land owners and users in the vicinity. A state-level land-records program should have authority to assure that records of state-owned land meet standards that support the needs of the locality and its cadastral records system and not just the needs of the operating agency. 7.2.4 State Coordinating Agencies The Office of Land Information Systems or its equivalent, as recommended for each state in the report of the Committee on Geodesy (1980), should look on the cadastral records offices of the counties (or cities) as its primary constituency. Each local office will be organizing on its own schedule, so that a sudden rush of new programs is unlikely, especially at the outset. Ample time should be available for testing the approaches and proposed standards of the statewide program. We recommend that a designated state agency participate in the development of each local cadastre, reviewing its plans, providing technical and financial assistance, and monitoring the adherence to its guidelines for local programs. The guidelines should be advanced to the status of standards after there has been adequate opportunity to test them and to verify their conformance to relevant standards that may exist at higher levels of government. When state operating agencies generate information concerning the land, as described in the preceding section, much of the field measurement and mapping is
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performed by private firms under contract with the state or local government. This provides an opportunity for the designated state or local Land-Information Systems office to review the contract as a routine administrative step, with approval of that office required for any portions of a state contract that will generate data within the scope of the local cadastre. We recommend that state governments require that the Office of Land Information Systems, or its equivalent, approve the relevant portions of any contracts involving production of field measurements, maps, or other land data that are within the scope of the local cadastre. The private firms that provide telephone, electric, gas, and, in some areas, water or other communications services, as regulated public utilities have requirements for keeping track of their facilities that parallel those of the local public works department. Like the public offices, the managements of these regulated monopolies do not have sufficient incentive from just their own operations to join with others in building a shared land data base. On the other hand, they usually have been able to raise many more millions of dollars to invest in their separate mapping and record systems than have their counterparts who operate the county government facilities. The executives of the regulated utilities have been able to justify far heavier investments in land data to their public regulatory boards than have the county executives to their councils or to the electorate. One would hope this is due, in part, to the recognition of high professional standards in the management of the regulated utilities. However, one must also recognize that the appointees to state regulatory boards do not answer to the voters for the duplication they pemit between separate utility companies in the same way that county officials must answer for duplication they permit among county departments. The marginal costs of duplication, or the marginal savings from a shared data system, revert to the public in either case, through their utility bills or their property-tax bills. We recommend that the regulated public utilities be required to identify the field measurements, maps, or other land data for which budgetary approval is being requested and that, prior to this approval, the state boards that regulate them be required to submit this information to the designated state and local offices responsible for local Land-Information Systems for evaluation of the adequacy of the data that should be included in the mitltipurpose cadastre and for a determination of any duplication of effort. 7.2.5 Federal Programs The original basis of title to most of the land in the United States was as federal territory, and most of this has been subdivided and transferred to others with reference to the Public Land Survey System (PLSS). The major exceptions are the lands of the original 13 colonies, which make up 18 of our present states. Thus, the General Land Office of the U.S. Government was predominant in establishing the cadastral records for most of Ohio (where the system originated) and for all of 29 states that
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lie farther to the west—this number also includes Florida but not Kentucky. Tennessee, Texas, or Hawaii. The localities in these 30 states have inherited the PLSS as the base for referencing original title to their land. In nearly two thirds of these states the federal government has “closed” its work on the PLSS and has turned over to the state governments the responsibility for whatever efforts are made to maintain the property-referencing system. Variations have evolved among these states in the procedures required for identical survey tasks, such as relocation of the center point of a PLSS section. In the 12 PLSS states where this transfer of responsibility has not yet been made, the Cadastral Survey Office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (formed in 1946) retains the authority for maintaining the network of survey control monuments at the PLSS section corners and quarter-section corners and the records of the disposition of the land. Positioning of these corners in Alaska, for example, is currently a major federal program. A separate federal program, currently administered by the National Geodetic Survey (NGS), has put in place the first- and second-order geodetic control points in a national network that provides a base for the geodetic reference framework for local cadastres, as described in Chapter 2. Federally sponsored research has been instrumental in the technological developments for positioning of points in the geodetic reference framework (see Section 2.3) and for mapping (see Section 3.5). Demonstration projects to determine the feasibility of new technology in typical local situations also have been sponsored on occasion by federal agencies, for example, the applications tested recently in Colorado by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) (Hendrix, 1981). Federal land-survey procedures continue to predominate in rural areas of the 30 PLSS states, but the development of standards for subdivision of land into urban lots has been largely independent of them. “Subdivision control” procedures were originally invented in the nineteenth century as a means of assuring the adequate description of newly created lots for title records. They have been established in most of the states since 1945, with the additional objectives of better site planning and assurance that adequate infrastructure is provided by the developer. Standards for survey and description of the lots normally are mentioned. In Wisconsin, for example, a standard established in 1848 that measurements around the boundaries of the new land subdivisions or any part thereof must close with an error no greater than 1:3000 remains in force today. There may be a dual set of standards for performance and recording of surveys for rural versus urban land within the same county, because the county government normally has much more involvement in the latter through its administration of the subdivision control process. An example is the current situation of the cadastral records in Jefferson County, Colorado (see Appendix A.3). The federal government remains an important land owner in the western third of the continental United States, essentially from the Rocky Mountains westward, and in certain other parts of the nation that have national forests, military installations,
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and other government facilities. The Cadastral Survey Office of the BLM has the ultimate responsibility for locating the boundaries of these federal lands, which can have a major impact on other land owners in the locality, both as abuttors and as users of monuments placed by the BLM for other cadastral surveys in the vicinity. The need of the BLM for more resources to carry out this boundary-marking function properly has been the primary force behind legislation introduced by Senator Domenici (1981). Rapid aggregation of land-ownership data is required for national perspective on a number of other issues that are of concern to the federal government. The recent study of systems for monitoring foreign ownership of U.S. real estate provides one example (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1979). A new, national digital coordinate PLSS data base is recommended by the Committee on Integrated Land Data Mapping (1982). Should this now become an objective of the federal government, it would generate a strong federal interest in the proper relocation of PLSS corners in local land surveys and collection of the data needed in the new federal data base. Meanwhile, the federal program that would have a greater impact than any of those described above on the realization of local multipurpose cadastres would be grants in aid tied to the use of recognized standards for each component of the new systems, as described in Section 7.5.5. 7.3 SUMMARY OF COSTS FOR PROTOTYPICAL COUNTIES Typical costs for the components of a multipurpose cadastre are listed in Chapters 2, 3, and 4 and in the Appendixes, per square mile of land covered and per parcel for alternative levels of precision, depending on local needs. To summarize the costs for a county government requires knowledge of these overall dimensions of the program plus a host of other factors such as the adequacy of existing control points, base maps, and cadastral parcel maps. In this section, summaries of costs are listed for two hypothetical sizes of counties to describe a range of total program costs that will have at least some relevance for most counties in the United States. The sequence of steps assumed in these prototypes is only one of many sequences possible in building the cadastral records systems. Individual counties may choose to invest first in organizing their files of land-parcel characteristics and postpone the new mapping to a later phase, if it is urgent to realize early benefits in current administrative and tax-assessment programs. 7.3.1 The Dimensions of Prototypical Counties The average land area of one of the 3114 counties and county equivalents of the United States, if one excludes Alaska, is about 956 square miles. The typical county
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has been subdivided into the sections and quarter-sections of the PLSS, even though many of the monuments that located this basic spatial reference framework for cadastral parcels have been lost or obliterated. A. substantial part of the nation does not fit this rule, that is, the territories that belonged to the original 13 states and did not become part of the public domain and the states of Texas and Hawaii. These “nonconforming” states comprise 20 percent of the nation’s land area where 44 percent of its population resides. However, there is no alternative description of the overall pattern of land subdivision that can serve as a generalization for them. Both of the hypothetical counties therefore are assumed to be subdivided according to the PLSS. Counties in the other 20 states probably can support their uneven patterns of property boundaries with a lower overall density of survey control points than that described in the following paragraphs for the PLSS states and thus with a lower expenditure per square mile for survey control, except in urban areas. The density of survey control points would be four per square mile throughout the nonfederal lands of the PLSS states, with the spacing at half-mile intervals recommended in Section 2.2.3. Establishing this density of control will be the major component of the cost of a countywide multipurpose cadastre, ranging from about half of the total costs for the prototype urban county to about two thirds for the prototype rural county. Howwver, because these points are the legally established reference network for cadastral parcels, the cadastral overlay will fall into place much more quickly once they are located. In rural areas covered by the PLSS, much of the cost of the control surveys actually could be attributed to the cadastral surveying component. A more detailed explanation of the need to establish the locations of the quarter-corners of the PLSS sections as control points is presented in the report of the Committee on Integrated Land Data Mapping (1982). That report describes a similar program of monumentation for federal lands, which would be under the direction of the BLM. For the mapping component of a countywide multipurpose cadastre the costs will depend on how much of the land must be covered with each of the customary scales of maps listed in Section 3.4, which in turn depends on whether the land is subdivided at urban, suburban, or rural densities. Table 7.1 recapitulates three of TABLE 7.1 Densities of Development in Prototype Counties Type of Area Range of Lot Frontages in Densest Sector Customary Base-Map Scale Square-Miles Suggested for Prototype Counties Urban Rural Urban 50′ to 90′ 1:1200 96 4 Suburban 100′ to 180′ 1:2400 260 12 Rural 200′ and greater 1:4800 600 940 TOTAL COUNTY 956 956
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TABLE 7.2 Suggested Factors for Cost Estimations Estimates for Prototypical Counties Factors Urban County Rural County Total population 500,000 20,000 Population per parcel 2.5 1.33 Total number of parcels 200,000 15,000 the customary scales given in Table 3.2 and suggests how much of each of the 956-square-mile prototype counties might need to be mapped at each scale. The presence of even a relatively small sector of denser development may require shifting to a larger scale of map, even though as much as 90 percent of certain map sheets may be less subdivided and mappable at the smaller scale. Some counties will have significant amounts of land subdivided into either larger or smaller parcels than are covered by this range. Where many lot frontages are 40 feet or less, a scale of 1:600 is suggested, as indicated in Section 3.4 of this report. Also, in “resource areas” that essentially are unsubdivided, maps at the scales of 1:12,000 or even 1:24,000 may be appropriate. However, neither of these extremes is included in the two hypothetical prototypes. Estimates of costs of the cadastral overlay component of a multipurpose cadastre are normally expressed per parcel and computed on the basis of the total number of parcels in the mapped area. For these hypothetical cost summaries, the prototype urban county is suggested as having 200,000 parcels, and the prototype rural county, 15,000 parcels. These figures are consistent with populations of about 500,000 and 20,000 for these two counties, respectively, as indicated by the ratios of population per parcel given in Table 7.2. The latter appear typical of similar counties described in the report on the HUD Land Title Systems Demonstration (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 1981 a, 1981 b). Although the suggested population of 20,000 for a prototypical rural county may seem small, it actually is the median population of the 3143 counties and county equivalents in the United States as of 1975. 7.3.2 Summary of Cost Estimates for Prototypes Appendix A.1 describes a program of relocating and monumenting of quarter-corners of the PLSS sections in the Southeastern Wisconsin Region (which includes the Milwaukee metropolitan area) that provides a model to which many counties can relate. Typical costs for recovering and preparing a PLSS corner were about $200 in 1980 dollars, which included relocation, monumentation, establishing witness marks and related ties, and documentation. The subsequent costs of accurately de-
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termining the location and elevation of each corner as a control point averaged about $400, for a total cost of about $600 per corner in 1980 dollars for the geodetic reference framework. For one of the prototypical counties, with an area of 956 square miles and thus something close to 3800 section corners and quarter-corners to be located as control points, this would indicate a total cost of about $2.28 million (see Table 7.3). The costs described above are for the use of traditional ground-traverse methods for control surveys, with electronic distance-measuring equipment. This technology is available throughout the nation and can be undertaken in small increments where budgets are limited. Should a county choose to invest more heavily in an accelerated program of control surveys, then the use of one of the newer technologies described in Section 2.3 of this report should bring down the cost per corner substantially for the larger program. For example, in Section 2.3.1 it is suggested that the cost of photogrammetric triangulation could be as low as one third that of traditional first-order ground traversing. The cost of $400 per corner for survey control work was for horizontal control by third-order, class I. traversing and vertical control by second-order, class II, leveling. If this could even be cut in half with photogrammetric triangulation, then the total cost of the program for a 956-square-mile county would be $760,000 less than the totals listed in Table 7.3. The costs of base mapping at each of the three scales listed in Table 7.3 are drawn from the typical costs in the Southeastern Wisconsin Region (Appendix A.1) TABLE 7.3 Cost Estimates for Prototypical Counties Basis of Cost Estimates Costs for Prototypical Counties (in thousands of dollars) Component of the Multipurpose Cadastre Unit Used Unit Cost (1980 Dollars) Urban Rural REFERENCE FRAMEWORK Survey corner $ 600 2,280 2,280 BASE MAPS Urban areas Square mile 5,000 480 20 Suburban areas Square mile 2,000 520 24 Rural areas Square mile 800 480 752 TOTAL COUNTY 1,480 796 CADASTRAL OVERLAY Parcel 10 2,000 150 TOTAL COSTS FOR HYPOTHETICAL COUNTY 5,760 3,226
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and also from figures for the state of Missouri (see Section 3.2). They indicate that the total cost of a base-mapping program for the prototype urban county would be $1.48 million, and for the prototype rural county, about $796,000. The average cost per parcel of $ 10 for the cadastral overlay also was drawn from Appendix A.1 and has the advantage of being an easy base figure for local adjustments. Costs per parcel would be much lower in rural areas that had not been subdivided significantly below the quarter-section level, because all of these would have been located precisely in the control survey phase of the local cadastre program. 7.4 PERSONNEL RESOURCES FOR MANAGEMENT AND STAFFING The county or municipality that undertakes to build a multipurpose cadastre will need the professional talent within the office assigned this responsibility, first to oversee the design and initial organization of the system and then to manage its continuing maintenance and improvement. In addition to individuals knowledgeable in each of the application areas, the office will require people with expertise in (1) geodetic control surveying, (2) photogrammetry and cartography. (3) land surveying, and (4) data-base management systems. The success of the program will depend on the high standards of professional competence set by the responsible local office and salaries that can attract and hold qualified professionals in these positions. The people hired for the managerial positions should have the breadth to grow with the program, in a field where technology is often changing. Without competent professional direction, much of the heavy expenditures in the development stages of the multipurpose cadastre will be wasted, and the accomplishment of the system actually may be set back by many years. Many counties find that employment of professional consultants is the only means of obtaining the professional help needed at the early stages of a new program or in the period of rapid development when an unusual depth of talent is needed. However, unless the program managers already are well grounded in these fields, they should not try to select and manage contractors for a multipurpose cadastre program by themselves but should seek the advice and assistance of a supportive office, e.g., at the state level, if one exists. We recommend that the office in each state that is assigned responsibility for county and municipal Land-Information Systems give a high priority to the setting of high standards of professional personnel in each local cadastre program and support them with recommendations for job descriptions and salary levels, with advice and assistance in designing their programs, and in selecting among available consultants, if needed. A model state office performing these functions is the Land Records Management Program in the Department of Administration of the state of North Carolina. The people with the required professional talents are available in most parts of
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the nation, given the state of the U.S. economy in mid-1982. However, if counties across the nation begin the development of multipurpose cadastres on a broad scale (which could occur if federal assistance is provided), then a scarcity of personnel may develop, especially at the managerial level. We recommend that continuing support be given to the university-level programs that currently are preparing people for professional careers in control survey engineering, photogrammetry, cartography, and management of cadastral record systems. 7.5 FINANCING THE DEVELOPMENT COSTS The several alternative approaches to financing the development of a multipurpose cadastre described in this section are based on the assumption that it is embedded in the administrative functions of the county government, or its equivalent, for reasons described in the opening paragraphs of this chapter. The multipurpose cadastre should not be undertaken until there is a commitment to its continuing maintenance and improvement after the development period, supported by the real estate tax base of the county or municipality. For financing the heavy front-end costs of the development period, at least four other possible sources also should be considered, as outlined in the following paragraphs. 7.5.1 Real Estate Taxes Land owners are the most clearly identifiable constituency that is likely to benefit from a multipurpose cadastre. Further, the relative amount of benefit likely to accrue to any one owner relates somewhat to the valuation of his property. Also, from the point of view of the local government administration, one major justification of the cadastre is to operate the real estate tax system in a fair and efficient manner. A proportionate share of the cost of the cadastre could reasonably be charged to the real estate tax as an overhead cost of the tax system itself. The real estate tax, therefore, is an equitable source of funds for the long-term financing of the development of the cadastre, as well as for the continuing costs of maintenance and improvement. We recommend that the real estate tax base of the locality be used as the source of funds for the net long-term financing of at least one quarter to one half of the front-end costs of developing the multipurpose cadastre, after the income from user charges has been accounted for. The development of initial data acquisition and data entry costs may be allocated over a period of up to 20 years. The maintenance costs for a multipurpose cadastre are generally estimated at one twentieth of the above costs per year. Therefore, even after the multipurpose cadastre has been set in place, counties must budget for maintenance on a continuing basis.
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There is a major risk in relying on local government taxation to support a development program that takes 10 or 20 years. Voter attitudes toward new public investments can swing back and forth in several cycles in that amount of time, and the work on the cadastre could be stopped by any one of the negative swings. The design of the program therefore should be as uncomplicated as possible, so that the prospective benefits of completing it will be obvious. Further, if the program can be covered by an intergovernmental agreement, with commitment of continuing support from state and federal as well as local governments, then it will be less vulnerable to changes in politics at any one of these levels. 7.5.2 User Charges Users and other direct beneficiaries of improved land records ideally should pay in proportion to their benefit. Since the benefits are diffuse and the initial costs are very high, it is necessary for government to play the major role. All three levels of government are involved. Unfortunately, the diffuse nature of benefits from the cadastre makes it difficult to assign specific amounts to the beneficiaries. In addition to being difficult to capture, these benefits accrue in the long run while the costs are high initially to develop the maps and capture the data. A proposed charge for use of the cadastral maps or records at least can be evaluated by the question: Does the proposed fee recover costs from those who actually use the system? The users having probably the greatest stake in the quality of the cadastral records system are those engaged in transfers of property rights. A cadastre financing fee could be charged to these users in many areas as an add-on to the existing state or local transfer tax for recording of the transaction as a percentage of the value of the property transferred. We recommend that a share of the cost of developing and maintaining the cadastre be covered through a real estate transfer tax collected at the point of recording of the transaction. States that already have such a tax should earmark at least a portion of the proceeds to support the state office of Land-Information Systems, including a program of grants for development of county-level cadastres, and increase the tax rate to provide sufficient funds for these purposes, if necessary. If at least some of the states do not proceed to raise funds for multipurpose cadastres through a transfer tax, then a national tax for this purpose administered by the federal government should be considered, analogous to the incremental tax on gasoline that funds the interstate highway system. State administration of the transfer tax would be preferable, so that it could be coordinated with existing transfer taxes and with the administration of the real estate taxes, which vary from state to state. Further, a federal transfer tax would be viewed initially as a reinstatement of the federal tax stamps on real estate transactions, which has been discontinued, and would require an extensive public relations program. Nevertheless, a national transfer
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tax would be preferable to no funding at all for the development of the multipurpose cadastre. The issuance of building permits in most states already is heavily loaded with procedures for enforcement of building and zoning codes and fees that support the local and state staffs to maintain and administer them. Nevertheless, those who invest in new construction or expansion of existing structures have a major stake in the accurate record of locations and conditions of their properties and of the districts where various types of building restrictions apply. We recommend that the possibility of raising some of the funds needed for the cadastre through a surcharge on fees for building permits also be considered in each state. Some funds for at least maintenance of the system also can be recovered through charges for hard copies of the records (maps or tabulations on paper or film) or for the connection of a terminal to the electronic files so that they might be read in a private office. Users of the existing deed record books in some counties are willing to pay as much as 50¢ or 75¢ per sheet for paper copies of the pages they need. This obviously covers more than the cost of paper and duplication, but income from such sources could only be a small fraction of the total budget for operating and maintaining the cadastre, without any consideration for development costs. 7.5.3 Joint Venture with Large Private Data Users A multipurpose cadastre, kept constantly up to date, will duplicate a major share of the land data now maintained in separate systems by the title insurance industry and by the utilities. If these companies would make the commitment to pay even a fraction of the present costs of obtaining these data to the county (or municipality) for the information service of the multipurpose cadastre, this could provide for a major part of the public budget. A major obstacle to such arrangements at present is the lack of a sufficient commitment on the part of the local government to convince the private data user that the proposed new system will be stable and permanent and that the data will indeed be available when he needs them. If it is not, the potential business losses would quickly exceed the amounts currently spent to maintain the separate, private system. It is unlikely that the major private users can be convinced to change this position and commit their support to a future multipurpose cadastre unless either (1) its development and operation are controlled by a policy board on which they have a major voice or (2) the federal government is committed to support the development and maintenance of the local cadastre that meets nationally recognized standards. 7.5.4 State Matching Funds Participation of the state government in each county program to develop a multipurpose cadastre with state matching funds would serve a number of state-level
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interests. It would increase the incentives for counties to undertake the programs, benefiting the state operating agencies that would use the results, as listed in Section 7.2.3. It would assure the counties that the designs of their cadastres are consistent with statewide standards and comparable with other jurisdictions, which should help keep down the prices charged by vendors who serve the statewide market. It would put the state coordinating agency in a strong position to ensure that its procedural requirements are being met, e.g., for review of all public investments in surveying and mapping by the local agency administering the cadastre. We recommend that the government of each state provide funds to the agency designated to participate in the development of each local cadastre, sufficient for grants of state funds for at least 25 to 50 percent of front-end costs of developing the multipurpose cadastre. We recommend that the provision of these categorical matching funds for the development of each local cadastre continue at least until it has become an established part of the local government, such that the state agency is confident of its permanence. 7.5.5 Federal Matching Grants A commitment of the federal government to support the development of a multipurpose cadastre to serve each county (or municipality, where appropriate) would lead to a new era for local land-data systems in the United States, providing a unity and direction that have been lacking to date. Without such a program, the development of cadastres in this country will continue to be piecemeal, sporadic, and slow, as it has been to date, even if the other standards and procedures recommended in this report are followed. Examples of all the components of a multipurpose cadastre being operated to high standards somewhere in the United States have been identified. However, we have been unable to identify any county or municipality that has had the resources to put all of them together and maintain them in a coordinated system. We recommend that an agency of the federal government be designated to design and develop a program of federal financial assistance to counties (and certain municipalities) for the development of multipurpose cadastres along the lines described in Section 4.3.2 of the Committee on Geodesy (1980) report, with federal matching funds provided at a level of about 40 percent, contingent upon the minimum additional contribution of about 20 or 30 percent by the state government, with its active participation. The design and development work should include the drafting of proposed standards and procedures covering at least the scope of those presented in this report and testing of them in a series of demonstration projects within selected counties. For a rough estimate of the order of magnitude of cost to the federal government for a program of matching grants, one might make the rough assumption that the cost of providing a complete cadastral system for the average county in the United States would be about $3.5 million if it proceeded individually, using the hypothetical figures developed in Section 7.3. However, the economies of high technology that
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TABLE 7.4 Percentages of Total Estimated Costs to Be Borne by a Federal Grant Program Factor Estimated Percentage Rationale Exclusion of federal land 80 22 percent of the continental United States is owned by the federal government (area of Alaska not included in original cost estimate) Use of existing control points and maps 75 25 percent of the cost might be saved by use of existing ground-control, base maps, and cadastral maps Spread over 20 years 5 Federal matching funds ratio 40 Requires a major share (60 percent) to be committed by state and local governments COMBINED 1.2 Product of the four estimated percentages should be possible in a nationally coordinated program should save at least $ 1 million of this amount. If cadastres for all the 3114 counties and county equivalents needing to develop cadastres (outside of Alaska) were developed with survey control points at one-half-mile intervals, the national total for coast-to-coast cadastres could be in the vicinity of $7.8 billion, in 1980 dollars. However, because the 24 percent of the area of the continental United States that lies outside the PLSS could make do with a lower density of control points, $7.5 billion would seem to be a reasonable estimate for total program costs, excluding Alaska. This compares reasonably with the estimate of $3.35 billion for a national program derived from the study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (1979) and reported on in the Committee on Geodesy (1980) report, which did not include investment in the geodetic reference framework and was expressed in 1979 dollars. A rough estimate of the annual contribution from the federal grants to counties and municipalities to support the program at the levels recommended in this report would be about 1.2 percent of the total estimated cost, or $90 million per year for 20 years, based on the factors in Table 7.4. It should be clear from the above that the rough estimate of $90 million per year for 20 years suggested as appropriate for a program of federal matching grants for the multipurpose cadastre is not the result of research but rather of some rough approximations that seem reasonable. If there is general agreement on the parameters of a multipurpose cadastre described herein, then more accurate estimates could be developed fairly rapidly from data available from the U.S. Census of Governments. In the meantime, this rough estimate at least provides the starting point for the discussion of the conclusions presented in Chapter 8.