June 3, 2004 By Jason Amadori and Ken Wheeler
Marion County, Fla., deployed GIS and integrated asset management technology to improve financial reporting and management of infrastructure assets. The new system eliminated superfluous records, fostered intradepartmental communications and assisted with GASB 34 reporting and compliance.
Governmental Accounting Standards Board Statement No. 34 -- or GASB 34 -- established financial reporting standards for state, local and special-purpose governments. Although counties are not required to use GASB 34, it has been adopted by Florida as a generally accepted accounting principle, and makes it easier for counties to pass their annual audits.
To comply with GASB 34 standards, the county must list all capital assets -- including infrastructure -- at historical cost, or estimated historical cost, and account for depreciation over their useful lives. The "modified approach" used by Marion County is an alternative to depreciation for infrastructure assets that requires state and local governments to demonstrate they are maintaining infrastructure at or above an established condition level. This approach allows the county to periodically assess the condition and functionality of its assets and budget maintenance activities.
Many state and local governments have discovered that GASB 34 cannot be implemented successfully with finance and accounting solutions alone. Input on infrastructure is needed from GIS, engineering, maintenance and operations personnel to accomplish the task.
In early 2002, the Marion County Engineering Department's road division issued an RFP to implement a centralized asset management system for roadway and storm water infrastructure. The road division maintains approximately 2,300 miles of paved road and 500 miles of unpaved road.
The contract was awarded to Space Imaging of Denver, which not only takes satellite images, but also offers ways to address diverse use of satellite and aerial imagery in GIS.
With Jones, Edmunds and Associates Inc., Space Imaging worked with the county Engineering Department to collect roadway asset data for incorporation into an integrated asset management system. More than 40,000 data points with full attribution were collected and placed in the county's asset management system in less than six months. This solution uses field data collection and image-based feature extraction to build the required asset databases.
The asset management system integrates new field data and legacy system data into a relational database management system, which allows the county to comprehensively track assets and costs associated with maintaining those assets at the minimum condition required by GASB 34.
Multiple Uses, Single System
In May 2002, Space Imaging's IKONOS satellite began taking one-meter resolution imagery, which allowed the Space Imaging/Marion County team to develop a cost-effective method to locate, map and inventory county road and storm water assets, as well as assess condition levels and determine value.
Satellite imagery also became the basis for new countywide maps of storm sewer facilities to satisfy the Environmental Protection Agency's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) requirements. Satellite imagery, coupled with high-resolution aerial photographs, also allowed the team to determine pavement edges and obtain exact roadway measurements.
Short-term goals included implementation of a comprehensive asset management system and pavement management system for facilities maintained by the county road division. Over the long term, the county hopes to use the asset management data to generate accounting reports that comply with GASB 34 and the NPDES legislation.
Working closely with county staff, Space Imaging specialists conducted a user needs assessment to identify county departments that could benefit from the system. In the past, several county departments used the same data in different formats and databases. Attempting to comply with GASB 34 further exposed the redundancies.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.