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County begins process to offer tax records online

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The St. Croix County treasurer's office will act as a pilot in a project to scan and digitize records to store them and eventually make them available to the public online.

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The St. Croix County Finance Committee voted last week to proceed with a contract to buy software to scan and index tax records. The equipment will be purchased from Cities Digital of Hudson.

Treasurer Cheryl Slind said the software scans, images and indexes documents. She plans to start with tax roll information going back to 1983.

In the future, she said, the office may also digitize receipts and tax bills, but for now it's the tax rolls that are taking up the most space.

Eventually the process will allow residents to go online and look up information relating to their parcels on the tax rolls.

Information Technology Director Tom Boron reported he has looked at three or four systems in the past year. He and Slind met recently with representatives of Cities Digital.

Boron said Cities Digital is a full-service document imaging and management company, and the software it sells has lots of capabilities.

While other departments are also looking at scanning documents as a way to store documents, Boron suggested trying the software in the treasurer's office first.

He said the quote for the basic software, scanners and Web interface technology is about $25,000, but the county wouldn't have to get into the Web part of the service yet.

Boron said he'd like to see how the software works and indexes before going ahead with the Internet part.

"I'd like to get a lot of the scanning done first," agreed Slind. Cities Digital will provide training, but Slind's staff will do the actual work.

The county should make it a priority to make the information available on the Internet as soon as possible, suggested County Board Chairman Buck Malick.

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