TENS-OF-THOUSANDS of files filled with information on every property in the city are stored in the basement of the Invercargill City Council’s Civic Administration Building.
There are more than 30,000 files, including Certificates of Title in copperplate handwriting from the 1800s, blueprints of house plans, building consents for new bathrooms, and information from the big floods of the 1980s.
If the council was ever involved in anything to do with a property, it should be there.
However, the number of paper files is gradually but steadily decreasing, as three property file officers work full-time to digitise them.
So far, they have converted more than 2000 files into electronic data. During the next 10 years, the remaining files should be converted to digital form as well.
Accessing a property file electronically is still some way off yet for most property owners.
In the meantime, if a person wants to see a property file, they can ask for it to be called up at the building services desk. There’s a charge of $10, and it is available the next day for viewing.
If the property file has been digitised, the person may be handed a memory stick instead.
Director of environmental and planning services Pam Gare said the digitising of property files was one of two technology streams staff were working on to provide a better service to customers.
“The other stream is about enabling our customers to lodge applications electronically.
“You can do this now when you apply for Land Information Memorandums (LIMs), resource consents, and when you register your dog,” Mrs Gare said.
“Next we will add applications for alcohol licences, and then building consent applications.
“We want people to be able to lodge their applications at a time that suits them, rather than have to queue at a council counter.”
A good example of the new digital move is the LIM process.
Prospective home buyers might sign up for a property, subject to a satisfactory LIM, on a Saturday morning. Lodging an application for a LIM during the weekend means council staff could pick it up first thing on Monday morning and get on to it right away, Mrs Gare said.