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The Town of Hingham was looking to put out a RFP for lawn mowing of all town fields. It was difficult to ask for a bid without giving the amount of area to be cut. Using GIS we were able to identify all the parcels and then using the orthophoto base maps available through MassGIS to identify and calculate the area of grass on each parcel. The only other way to get an area of grass would have been to go out and physically measure the areas. It was estimated that it would have cost $5,000 to $10,000 to have a surveyor do this work. The town does not have anyone on staff qualified to do it.
The Town's Assessor needed to re-draw the assessment neighborhood's used in determining assessed values. These neighborhoods represent areas that are homogenous with respect to location factors such as proximity to a water. The neighborhood classification is a key element in establishing assessed value. The assessor estimates that it would have taken one person full-time for a year driving around and looking at all approximately 12,000 parcels in Marshfield, classifying each parcel into a neighborhood by drawing on a paper map. Besides the staff cost, there would have been substantial transportation costs. Marshfield did not have staff available for the task and so would have had to contract for this service, further increasing the cost. However, with the town's newly developed GIS, the Assessor was able to complete this task by devoting about 75% of her time over 45 days. This work involved displaying different areas of the town on a computer screen. For each area, the assessor's parcel boundaries were drawn along with an orthophoto base map, topographic contours, surface waters, and wetlands. All except the parcel data were acquired from MassGIS. In the end, the number of neighborhoods had increased from nine to 31. The town's GIS not only saved money over the alternative approach, but provided further refinement of the assessment neighborhoods, thus improving the quality of the evaluation used in determining assessed values.