Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are designed to efficiently capture, store, update, manipulate, analyze, and display all forms of geographically-referenced information. The subsequent graphical representations allow users to perform queries to evaluate current conditions and determine potential scenarios. Years ago, when central Illinois governments recognized the benefits such a system could provide both the public and private sector, efforts began to develop a local GIS. In 1996, the Peoria County Board, Peoria City Council, and the Greater Peoria Sanitary District (GPSD) formed a consortium to create what’s become PeoriaGIS.
The consortium was realized with an intergovernmental agreement in 1997 that included a GIS funding arrangement: both Peoria County and the City of Peoria would be responsible for 37.5 percent of the operating costs, and the GPSD is responsible for 25 percent. Peoria County’s 37.5 percent of the operating cost is covered by a recording fee the Recorder of Deeds Office charges GIS users. The county GIS surcharge was established by the Illinois General Assembly to offset county costs of developing a GIS. By law, Peoria County can’t profit from its fees; therefore, revenue generated by user fees only covers costs the county incurs for developing, maintaining, and providing a GIS. This conscientious arrangement meets the county board’s strategic goal of sustaining a financially solvent government.
In 1998, the consortium hired Merrick, Inc. to produce topographic and planimetric data layers from newly developed digital orthophotos, images formed by “stretching” aerial photos to exactly match in longitude, latitude, and altitude their subjects. The topographic data allows users to locate contour lines, and the planimetric data defines specific points, lines, and polygons such as fire hydrants, center lines of roads, and outlines of residences, respectively. Following the development of these data layers, the consortium recognized the need for sophisticated technical support and hired the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission in 2002 to ensure PeoriaGIS reached its full potential, which included adding a digital cadastral layer to ease the property assessment process. Now, Peoria County’s Supervisor of Assessments Office uses current cadastral data to assess property values.
The consortium continues to work with Tri-County to disseminate updated geographic information to the public and other agencies via PeoriaGIS.com. Facilitating public access to PeoriaGIS marks the final development phase of this technological tool. Today, PeoriaGIS members share software applications, spatial data, and other items that relate directly to a geographic information system. This raw data can, and is, being manipulated for purposes of analysis by local engineering companies and development firms. Soon, private citizens also will be able to reap the benefits of a local GIS.
Offering units of government, private businesses, and our citizens such a phenomenal tool is why Peoria County, the City of Peoria, and the GPSD signed and retain this crucial intergovernmental agreement—an agreement that continues to reflect the board’s strategic goals of partnering for success with other governments and delivering quality services in a professional manner to our citizenry. For more information, visit www.peoriagis.com. IBI