Highland County Recorder Chad McConnaughey gave the board of commissioners an annual progress report Wednesday concerning accomplishments and progress made in his office last year.
“It was a very busy year for us,” he said in his briefing. “With interest rates the way they were, real estate was really moving and that meant lots of refinancing going on that created a lot of extra work that was going on in our office.”
His report showed a total of 6,801 documents recorded in 2020 as opposed to 6,110 the year before.
Total monies collected for the county in 2020 showed a nearly $80,000 increase from 2019, increasing by $78,851 for a total of $435,099.
He said that nearly half of that money —$215,438 —went to the state for the Housing Trust Fund, with the remainder being split between the general fund and the S-12 equipment fund for the recorder’s office.
A significant part of the total collected was due to e-recording, which amounted to $107,537, and was 25 percent of the total collection figure for last year, compared with 18 percent in 2019.
He told commissioners that figure would rise in 2021 due to increases in both document recording and fees.
“E-recording is a new service we added in the last year-and-a-half, which started out with us doing non-conveyance documents like mortgages, releases of mortgage and things like that, that don’t have to go through our three-step process here in the county with the tax map and auditor,” McConnaughey said.
He said e-recording allowed documents to be sent to their vendor via the internet, avoiding traditional mail for a quick turnaround.
“Earlier in the year, we got with engineer Chris Fauber and auditor Bill Fawley and decided to make the jump to conveyance documents as well,” McConnaughey said. “The largest portion of that money is in mortgages, which when they’re filed can be anywhere from 10 to 20 pages.”
In citing completed or ongoing major projects undertaken by his office last year, he said the introduction of e-recording was going to be a major benefit to the county.
“That’s being pushed by all the lenders,” he said. “Any county who isn’t doing e-recording, the banking industry is really going to be pushing for that to happen, and I’m glad we were able to make that jump… and at no additional cost to the county.”
He highlighted other projects his office had been involved in last year including:
• Assisting the tax map office with property card filing in order to prepare them for electronic scanning.
• Changing procedures in the flow of documents throughout the recording process to improve efficiency and organization.
• Utilizing CARES Act funding to have eight years of documents, including 97 books, added to its online status. He said that Kofile was finishing the name and date indexing, and that his office would index property information.
Goals for the recorders office in the upcoming year include continuing the back-indexing of deed books, drawing up contingency operating plans in the Office Procedures Manual, working with other offices to “clean up” records storage and retention issues, and offering help and advice to newly-elected Adams County Recorder Chris Moore as he begins his new term in office.
In other matters at Wednesday’s meeting, board chairman Jeff Duncan said that preliminary sales tax numbers for January were continuing the stable trend seen throughout last year, despite the pandemic.
“The figures are actually two months behind, but we’re off to a good start for 2021,” Duncan said. “We’re at $621,000 and some change above $538,000 from last year, so I figure we’re $82,515 better than a year ago.”
Also Wednesday, four resolutions dealing with line item budget transfers and appropriations were approved, in addition to an agreement for a dumpster with Waste Management of Ohio, Inc. to be used in recycling and disposal of a significant amount of old computers and related equipment.
A letter of support was given to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio for AEP Ohio’s GridSmart Phase 3 application broadband access proposal.
Vice chairman Terry Britton said the commissioners were still studying solutions to the ongoing problem of records storage for the county, and that two blacktopping projects were on the agenda in the coming months.
“Those are at the sheriff’s office and the Hi-Tech Center,” Britton said. “The lots are in real bad shape so we’ll be going out for bids on those, plus the culvert situation at the Hi-Tech area where the drains need to be fixed will be done at about the same time.”
The Highland County Board of Commissioners meet every Wednesday at 9 a.m. in their offices on the second floor of the Highland County Administration Building.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.