May 17, 2022

County to introduce new tax information software for public use

Beacon system will be upgraded to show estimated breakdown of taxes

The Jasper County Board of Supervisors on April 5 approved new tax software to be implemented on Beacon for all county residents.

The new software will allow the county assessor’s office to enter the previous year’s tax information into it and produce a personalized breakdown of each individual property tax for citizens to see how their local government is using their tax dollars.

“This new software will offer a breakdown of how people’s taxes are being used into a pie chart that will show how the money has been split up around the county agencies,” county IT director Ryan Eaton said. “From what I’ve seen, this tool has done wonderfully in counties that already use it.”

The breakdown will show graphs of previous tax years, but not current or future ones due to the ever-changing nature of local taxes which include levy rates from outside agencies and state approval of the county’s budget, Eaton said.

“I want to reiterate that the original purpose of this new software is to allow the public to have access to their previous tax distribution information entirely online and eliminate the need for them to come into the county assessor’s office,” Eaton said during a later interview with Newton News.

An extensive amount of information will now be available to the public entirely online, including Homestead deductions, military tax deductions, business property tax deductions, sales questionnaires, data correction, search compatibles and assessment appeals.

Supervisors agreed with Eaton the tool could be a great asset for the county, but they wanted to ensure the public is aware it is not an official tool the county offers to provide future tax estimates.

“We need to make sure that people know that this information is only an estimate, so people know that the amount can go up or down based on new policies. It needs to be big, bold, in red and underlined,” county auditor Dennis Parrott said of the notification reminding citizens the information is only an estimate.

The new system would cost the county $12,964 for use of the software and the initial set up. Afterward the software would cost only $4,488 a year, Eaton said.

“We will be able to measure how much traffic the website sees and determine if it is used enough to justify the cost,” Eaton said.

Jasper County will be the first county in all of Iowa to use this new software, but it has been adopted by several other counties throughout the country that have seen great success with it.

“I really like this. It shows transparency,” supervisor Brandon Talsma said.

Contact Abby Knipfel at 641-792-3121 ext. 6531 or aknipfel@shawmedia.com

Abby Knipfel

Abby "Adler" Knipfel

Journalist at Newton Daily News. Currently covering Jasper County and writing passionate opinion pieces. They/Them