Oil, gas fueling spike in Monroe fees

WOODSFIELD – Revenue received from document recording fees, document copy fees and extended access hour fees by the Monroe County Recorder’s Office has zoomed from $123,069 in 2010 to more than $1.4 million in 2013.

Noting that much of the money is linked to oil and gas exploration in the county, Recorder Ann Block went on to point out that county residents are receiving funds from leasing and are buying new places as well as paying off mortgages.

“All of that of that creates documents processed in the recorder’s office,” she said.

Block added many of the documents are deeds for properties, and there are a lot of affidavits.

While talking about the increased revenue for the county, the recorder said, “I think it’s going to keep going on for a while. I don’t know how long. I’m hoping it will keep going. I don’t see it waning at all.”

The 2013 total received was $1,401,650.61 of which $815,331.04 went to the county’s general fund and $586,319.57 to the Ohio State Housing Trust Fund.

For 2010, the revenue amounted to $123,069 with that divided equally between the Ohio State Housing Trust Fund and the county’s general fund.

Last year was the first time in recent years and probably previously that the revenue topped $1 million.

In 2012, the total revenue was slightly less than $1 million as it amounted to $939,093.01. The county’s general fund received $618,862.10 while $320,230.91 went to the Ohio State Housing Trust Fund.

The 2011 total was $211,421.44 with this equally divided between the county’s general fund and the Ohio State Housing Trust Fund.

That state trust fund is described on its website as “a flexible state funding source that provides affordable housing opportunities, expands housing services, and improves housing conditions for low-income Ohioans and families.”

Block indicated that in her opinion, Monroe County doesn’t benefit much from the Ohio State Housing Trust Fund. “It’s not equal to what we’re paying in,” she said.

She explained that 50 percent of every dollar received by the recorder’s office for recording documents and document copies goes to the state housing trust fund. This doesn’t include the extended access fees.

The extended access fees are those charged to companies who want access to the records outside of the public hours. Two people man the office during that time, and those are contract workers.

During 2012 and 2013, 14,473 documents were recorded, and 55 volumes filled. That involved 55,000 document pages filled.

At mid-morning Tuesday, there were at least 55 people in the office checking over documents.

“We’re a little tiny office,” said Block, who said those being accommodated that day were “elbow to elbow.”

With the increased action for the recorder’s office, the equipment has increased.

Block reported in 2011, the office had one Land Track indexing-only computer and two public access index search-only computer terminals. All document recording, document copies, document receipting and office reconciliation were done manually.

The office now has 15 computer terminals including nine public search-dedicated computers, four index-processing and general office use computers and two recording and cashiering process computers with one computer also doing the scanning of the recorded documents to the county’s permanent official records.

“All documents are partially indexed by computer at the time of recording, then they are scanned into the Land Track computer system,” commented Block. “These documents are searchable and printable usually within minutes of filing.

“We are current with our document filing, recording the same day we receive the documents. The documents are retained overnight for index proofing and scan checking before they are returned to the customer.”

In 2011, the recorder’s office employed two full-time people in addition to the recorder. Since the end of 2011 through 2013, the office has employed two full-time employees and one part-time employee in addition to the recorder.

Block, who took office in early October 2011, said from Dec. 7, 2011, to Dec. 18 of last year, 156 document volumes have been preserved through reprinting and/or rebinding.

The last 20 years of all documents recorded with that office are completely viewable and printable from the computer system so it isn’t necessary to pull the document volumes – each with about 1,000 pages – from the shelves.

Block noted how having the documents on the computer saves wear and tear on the large volumes.

Prior to 1993, Monroe County had six different volumes, and these were for mortgages, leases, deeds, powers of attorney, records of plats and powers of attorney for health care.

“For the last 20 years, we have done official records as they come in chronologically in the same volume,” said Block, who said it makes it a lot easier since the records now are all in one book. Under that system, the volumes now total 263.

She added, “Every record of all types, back to Volume 1 of each, have been digitized and are being processed to become viewable and printable from the office computer system later this year.

“Our vital and historical land record volumes will be protected and preserved for future generations by minimizing if not eliminating the wear and tear on these old volumes by this digitized computerization instead of it being necessary to pull these volumes from the shelves for researching.”

Pokas can be reached at bettypokas@yahoo.com.