Posted: Saturday, May 18, 2013
THOMSON REUTERS HELPS ORANGEBURG COUNTY SOLVE PROPERTY
VALUE CAPPING CHALLENGE
GRM AUTOMATES CALCULATIONS AND ADAPTS TO CHANGING STATE
Orangeburg County, an All-America County winner, strives to provide
the best services possible for
residents and visitors. The County is located in central South
Carolina and has a population of approximately 90,000 people and
66,000 land parcels. County services are administered from offices
located in the city of Orangeburg.
The Challenge: Legacy Software and Legislative
In 2008, the Orangeburg County tax assessor's office faced the
reality that its legacy property tax-management software was
reaching end-of-life status. In order to ensure continuity of
public services and to take advantage of new and up-to-date
technology, County Tax Assessor Jim McLean considered replacement
Thomson Reuters had provided support for the current system,
which was a former Sabre solution that Thomson Reuters had acquired
in the 1990s. With this established relationship, the County felt
comfortable moving forward with an upgrade to a Thomson Reuters GRM
"We fully trusted Thomson Reuters based on the support and
expertise they provided on the Sabre system and felt converting to
a new system on our own or with another solution provider would be
risky," McLean said. "We also faced a deadline to deploy a new
reassessment solution before the state of South Carolina enacted a
property tax capping bill."
The bill, known as Act 388, greatly impacted the way the County
conducts tax management by placing a limit on property value
increases during reassessments. "We needed to deploy a system that
would handle the new rules correctly, and it would have become a
major challenge to maintain the system using manual processes or
spreadsheets in future years," McLean said.
The Solution: Thomson Reuters Expertise Coupled with GRM
The Thomson Reuters team has extensive knowledge of South
Carolina's property tax capping legislation due to its experience
with counties across the state as well as in other states with
similar legislation. Thomson Reuters was also the first solution
provider in South Carolina to offer capping capability in its
McLean thus felt confident Thomson Reuters could provide the
County's required expertise and technology. Additionally, Thomson
Reuters knew the Sabre system well, and this would prove beneficial
when migrating data into the new GRM solution.
Thomson Reuters recommended Orangeburg County upgrade its tax
management system and address the South Carolina capping bill by
deploying GRM ProVal, a comprehensive property appraisal solution
featuring a highly-productive, integrated sketch package and an
extremely accurate valuation engine for calculating property
The Deployment: A Collaborative Effort
The County experienced no significant downtime during the GRM
implementation by working with the Thomson Reuters team to time
upgrade activities so they would not impact workflow. "When
deploying solutions, Thomson Reuters is always concerned about work
stoppages and gives us priority service when issues occur," McLean
The onsite Thomson Reuters deployment team focused on
configuring the system to work exactly as the County desired.
Thomson Reuters also ensured the County could convert old data into
the new system after making sure McLean approved the appearance of
the data. "They always gave us options so we could make the best
choice for us," McLean said.
After deploying GRM, the Orangeburg County staff migrated the
data from the Sabre system. The implementation became more
challenging when the South Carolina bill had some unclear
stipulations regarding what the County should do in relation to
"Thomson Reuters was working with several counties in South
Carolina at the same time and collaborated with us to follow what
the South Carolina State Department of Revenue requested," McLean
said. "It helped to have experts guide us through this discrepancy.
The Thomson Reuters team advised us on how to set up the system and
ensure we complied with all the state requirements."
The Benefits: Legislative Compliance and Improved
Since the initial GRM deployment was finalized to comply with
Act 388, the solution has worked smoothly. In addition to handling
the capping requirements, McLean also said the effective dating
feature that GRM offers is a big plus.
"This allows us to continue working on historical items all year
long," McLean said. "When working on year 2011 and then copying the
data for year 2012, for example, we can't just send all our deeds
at once. We need to do this continuously so that the transfer
department does not have to wait on the tax roll and vice-versa.
GRM gives us this ability, and we can see historical activity at
any certain point of time-without keeping a whole new database.
It's thus much easier now to enter deeds and track ownership."
Orangeburg County also deployed GRM eGovernment from Thomson
Reuters, which allows the tax assessor's office to more efficiently
update pages on the County website. Previously, changes and
revisions would be delayed when the County went through an IT
"Updating data used to take a long time," McLean said. "Now it's
seamless when we want our latest values to appear online. As we
update our records daily, it automatically updates the website,
allowing our constituents to access this data online. This saves us
from hiring a full-time person to take calls, and citizens receive
more timely information."
Another time savings feature is the database architecture within
GRM that allows County staff to access information within the
system quickly and efficiently. Now, if a citizen files a
complaint, an appeal, or a request for a building permit, staff can
quickly gather basic property info for the document header such as
the owner, tax number, and address to provide better customer
service to constituents.
"We had to keep making copies with the old database because we
could not query live data," McLean said. "If we did, it would mess
up the indexes and cause the program to stop working. But with the
stable SQL database offered by GRM, we can query and pull the data
into forms-such as mapping and building permits-with no negative
performance on the live database."