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Clark commission opposes state plan

Measure would allow recorders to charge higher fees to pay for equipment.

Clark County commissioners have signed a resolution opposing a proposed amendment to the state budget that would allow county recorders to seek additional funding for equipment expenses.

Under the proposed amendment, commissioners would have to pay up to $8 for each document filed to fund the technology needs of county recorders, if the recorder can justify the need.

Ohio law currently requires county commissioners to pay up to $7 per document, and that money goes into a special equipment fund. But Butler County Recorder Danny Crank said few recorders get $7 per document and some get less than $4 per document.

Crank said rising costs of technology and insufficient funding for equipment needs has caused a digital divide in some Ohio recorder offices.

“We have recorders around the state that still don’t have email and still don’t have Internet access. We have recorders that still hand-stamp documents,” Crank said.

Crank said if the amendment proposed by the Ohio Recorders’ Association is approved, the language of the law would make it mandatory for commissioners to pay no more than $8 for each document filed or recorded as long as the county recorder presents a proposal justifying the need.

“If we can justify it, they must grant the funding,” Crank said. “Our goal is to get all recorders up to date technology-wise.”

Clark County commissioners and other county commissioners, including the Ashtabula County commissioners, have signed resolutions in opposition of the idea.

A resolution signed by Clark County commissioners John Detrick, Rick Lohnes and David Hartley said the amendment removes the discretion of the board and instead causes the funds to be “mandatory upon request.”

Lohnes said he and other commissioners oppose the idea because of the amendment’s “non-flexible” language.

“The Ohio Recorders’ Association proposal includes language whereby which commissioners would be unable to diminish funding for expenses for the recorder’s office which would invite unnecessary and costly litigation when a remedy … already exists,” the resolution signed by Lohnes, Detrick and Hartley stated.

Clark County Recorder Nancy Pence currently gets $7 per document that goes into her office’s technology fund. The office also receives funding from the county general fund and from a housing trust fund.

In 2012, the special equipment user fees for Pence’s office totaled $133,161.

Pence said she is pleased by the support her office receives from Clark County commissioners and does not need the additional money for technology.

“My commissioners have been really good. If I justify that I need something, they come through,” Pence said.

However, Pence said recorders in other counties are not as fortunate.

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