Loan will upgrade operations

LISBON – Columbiana County commissioners agreed to proceed with accepting a state loan that will enable the county recorder’s office to upgrade operations.

Commissioners voted at this week’s meeting to enter into an agreement that will allow the county to borrow $100,000 for years at zero interest to continue making digital copies of deeds, mortgages, etc, and purchase some new recording equipment.

The loan is through the state’s Local Government Innovation program. The idea was first pitched two years ago by former county recorder Craig Brown, who obtained the loan, but commissioners never took any action and then Brown lost his re-election bid. His successor, Theresa Bosel, approached commissioners recently about following through on the loan.

To qualify for the loan, the county had to commit $120,000 to the project, which it did when Chesapeake Exploration agreed to cover the cost of digitizing recorder office documents between 2008 and 2012.

According to the loan agreement, $53,000 will be used to pay Cott Systems to digitize 1.2 million documents, according to Commissioner Tim Weigle. Cott is the company under contract to maintain the recorder’s office operating systems.

Another $35,000 will be used to hire someone part-time to help redact private information, such as Social Security numbers, from these documents and index the digitized records for placement on the office website. The remaining $12,000 will be used to purchase new copier machines and new label/receipt printers.

The money to repay the $10,000 annual loan payment is to come from the recorder’s equipment fund, the money for which is generated by various recording fees. The motion approved by commissioners requires Bosel to provide them with a letter every year giving them the authority to transfer $10,000 from her equipment fund to cover the loan payment.