Recorder’s budget gets a boost

LISBON – A state-mandated change in how county recorder fees are distributed among government agencies will mean more money for the recorder’s office, but at the expense of county commissioners.

Columbiana County commissioners voted this week to make the state-mandated changes to how the $28 county recorder fee for recording documents is divided between the state, commissioners and recorder. The move is expected to cost the county general fund about $60,000 per year, with the money instead going to the recorder.

Under current law, half of the $28 recording fee goes to the state and the rest to the county, with commissioners deciding how it is allocated between the recorder’s equipment fund and the county general fund. The commissioners here earmarked $4 per document for the recorder’s equipment fund, with the remaining $10 going into the general fund, which is under their control.

The new two-year state budget approved in June by the Ohio General Assembly included a provision allowing county recorders to ask commissioners for a $3 increase in their share of the recording fee, not to exceed $8, with commissioners required to honor the request.

Commissioners did so at this week’s meeting, raising the recorder’s share to $7 per document, although they did so somewhat begrudgingly because it will result in less revenue for the general fund.

The current $4 portion of the fee going into the recorder’s equipment fund generated $77,376 in 2012 and is on course to reach the same level this year. Based on those figures, the equipment fund would receive an additional $58,000 in 2014 at the expense of the general fund.

Commission Chairman Mike Halleck said after the meeting they offset the potential loss of general fund revenue somewhat by decreasing Recorder Theresa Bosel’s 2014 budget appropriations by $15,000 from what she received for this year.

The law entitling recorders to the extra money is only in effect for five years and is designed to help them update equipment. Bosel doubts she will be able do much even with the additional money because the inadequate level of general fund appropriations from commissioners will force her to continue doing like her predecessors and use equipment fund money to help pay office salaries.

“I don’t have a choice,” she said. “Apparently, commissioners have faith in my ability to work within my budget, and I will do my best.”

The recorder’s office just recently returned to a full staff of four employees after a new worker was hired to replace one who retired at the end of August, but Bosel said she needs one more position if her office is ever going to be able to keep pace with the recording activity resulting from the oil and gas boom.

“In 1939 we had four people in that office, and we’re taking in so many more documents, and they (staff) can only do so much,” she said.