Recorder puts public documents online

LISBON – Columbiana County recorder documents dating back to Jan. 1, 2013, are now available online.

County Recorder Theresa Bosel said from that date forward all documents will be scanned and placed online, minus redacted Social Security numbers. The public will also be able to print out unofficial copies of documents.

“This will be so much more convenient,” she said of the new program.

Bosel said she has been working for months on developing the system with the company that provides and maintains the office operating system. She said the company, Cott Systems, helped develop the online process for no additional fee.

“This will cut down not only on the time one will need to spend in the recorder’s office but also speed up the work flow and make us much more efficient in the recording and indexing of all documents,” she said in a news release.

The new system enables anyone recording a document to get the original back immediately after it has been scanned instead of having to wait months because of the backlog of oil and gas leases.

“I believe the changes I am implementing in the work flow will completely eliminate all backlog issues permanently,” she said.

Going online with recorder documents was the goal of Bosel’s predecessor, Craig Brown, as a way to address the lease backlog. Brown found a company willing to place all documents online dating back to 2000, but county commissioners rejected the offer, saying they were concerned about losing revenue generated by the copying fee because no such fee can be charged for downloading documents online.

The recorder’s office charges 25 cents per page if you make the copy yourself and $2 per page if the staff is enlisted to make copies. The copying fee generates about $50,000 a year for the county general fund.

Bosel said other county recorders saw a drop in copying fee revenue once they went online but it was not a major decline, and she expects the same thing to occur here.

Documents downloaded online will include a watermark identifying it as an unofficial copy, and anyone needing an official copy must still come to her office to get one.

“If you want me to certify this is a true and accurate copy of a record from my office, I want to see it,” she said.

Recorder documents dating back to 2008 could be placed online since they have been recorded in a digital format, but Bosel is reluctant to do that at this point because she is unsure they have been redacted. “I’m not comfortable at this point that they have,” Bosel said.

Going online is expected to have the ancillary benefit of reducing wear and tear on copiers and also save money since the machine’s maintenance costs are based on number of copies made.

“I think we’ll end up saving more money,” she said.