Monday, February 14, 2011

My lesson in Cartography

This is a picture I took of a survey map at the appraisal district office this morning while I was trying to sort out how our property taxes had gotten jacked up.  When you live in the city the boundaries of your property are usually pretty clear.  At our house in Vegas I could have measured the whole lot with a three hundred foot tape measure in about a half hour.  There is of course always easements and once and a while neighbors have issues about where the lines begin and end, but it get more complicated when you can't actually walk along the property lines or see from one corner of the property to the other because there is a tons of trees and brush in the way.

According to the appraisal district, which is who decides how much you owe, a portion of our property had never been included in the tax roles.  When they added it and created a tax ID account for that section it was no longer considered land with agricultural value and was taxed much higher than some of the other parcels. The problem comes in when you have to figure out which parcel is which.  No where on the ground does it say this is parcel 777777.  I had to go over all the maps and aerial photographs with the mapping guy who at first assured me that no mistake had been made. The problem is that the lines are often left on the maps for separate parcels even when those parcels have been combined into a single tax account number.  Lines are also sometimes removed when parcels are bought from different people by one buyer. 

In order to determine which parcel is which you have to go over the field notes on the deeds which basically say  start at one agreed upon point and then say turn south 97 degrees go 85 feet turn east 56 degrees go 79 feet etc, etc, etc,  The only way to find the points is to take a metal detector and look for the scrap that is usually buried as a marker.  According to the mapping guy rusty rifle barrels were once a popular marker that would be hammered into the ground by the surveying crew. Why survey crews had piles of rusty rifle barrels laying around I will never know. 

Each chunk of land here is divided into files by the origanal surveys ours falls into the Robert Conn survey and you can dig through the file which is a collection of maps, photos, field notes, legal documents, etcs.  One survey from the sixties clearly showed how the land was originally divided and made the problem clear.  A piece of our land had not been properly accounted for, but not the piece they tried to add.  The good news for us is that since they can't tax us twice on the same piece we get a break this year, but have to file to have the newly added section classified as agricultural timber land. What a pain in the @$$.

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