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Essex County looks to charge for online maps

The Essex County Board of Supervisors.

The Essex County Board of Supervisors. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— The Essex County office of Real Property Tax wants to make sure that it can both use modern technology and continue to keep a revenue stream.

During the Aug. 20 Finance/Tax Reduction/Mandate Relief Committee meeting of the Essex County Board of Supervisors, North Elba’s Roby Politi asked Real Property Tax Director Charli Lewis why the county was not offering tax maps for printing online.

“If I live in Lake Placid, I am not going to drive down to Elizabethtown to pay $5 a copy to purchase tax maps,” Politi said. “We are able to pay for taxes and other services online. Can we do that with this?”

Lewis said that the department was previously offering tax maps online, but pulled them when they realized people were getting them for free instead of paying the usual fees ($1.50 for an 8-1/2”-by-14” map, $5 for a full map).

“Printing tax maps is a source of revenue for our department and when we found out that they were being printed off online for free, we stopped,” she said. “We definitely got phone calls when we stopped offering them through the website for free. By virtue of things going out on the website, our office has lost a lot of revenue over the years.”

Politi said that he has seen tax maps offered through the Clinton and Franklin County sites.

Newcomb Supervisor George Canon asked if the amount of money coming in was worth the hassle.

“How big is the revenue,” he said. “If we lose that revenue, then what are we really losing?”

“It might not be much money, but it is flexible money with no strings attached and even if that is not a lot, that kind of money is very important in a budget,” Minerva Supervisor Sue Montgomery-Corey said.

County Manager Daniel Palmer said that the county could look into offering the service online along with a payment program like they use for taxes and other payments.

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