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Cass County Board: Commissioners get look at county's updated website

BACKUS — Cass County commissioners watched a demonstration Tuesday of the county’s faster website map services.

New information also has been added to the site, including all the historical data in old property tax record books which formerly were stored in over 500 leather bound paper books in the courthouse basement dungeon.

The county’s technology department will offer four training classes for township and city officials in December to help those officials take full advantage of the improved system. Training classes will be offered to the public next spring, with dates to be announced in 2014.

Not only is extensive information available about individual land parcels by seeking data from the county map tools but people can select an area of the county map, copy mailing lists to their computer and print mailing labels in their home or office.

All county maps are compatible with personal computer and laptop systems. Increasing numbers of mobile devices also can connect with the Cass mapping system, according to Management Information Systems Director Tim Richardson.

By zooming in to a specific land parcel or by calling it up by physical address or parcel identification number, anyone can learn the taxpayer’s name, mailing address and physical address; the value of the property; annual taxes and whether those payments are current; town or city; taxpayer identification number; acreage; legal description; property sales history; sewer compliance inspections; and building and zoning permit history.

Any of the maps or information can be printed from the screen or saved for printing later.

In the county surveyor portion of the website, old records the county purchased from the Curo family, who are descended from an early county surveyor, can be viewed.

Private survey companies used to have to go to Walker to view a card file to find the description of survey corners. Now, the public as well as surveyors can see the government lot corner card records on the county website at their convenience.

Cass’s land department has made their records more accessible to not only loggers who buy timber to cut from county land, but the general public also can now find out where timber is being sold and what tree species will or has been offered from each sale site.

Sales information is provided by years, by timber sales date, by sale site and by logger who has a permit to cut on county land. Road permits and easements also are listed. Land department employees have been training loggers to use the system when they come to the office in Backus.

Land Commissioners Joshua Stevenson said many loggers now do their own searches from home.

He said private landowners have become aware of the new system, too. Last week, he had a call from a seasonal resident who wanted to report that pine had been cut from land he believed did not include pine on a recent timber sale.

Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson said the county began accepting records on real estate sales electronically in late 2011. Electronic filing increased from just under 1 percent in 2012 to about 1.3 percent this year, she said, predicting that will increase to 80 to 90 percent in the next few years.

Each county department will be responsible for keeping their portion of the county website updated in the future instead of relying on employees in the technology department as in the past.