LISBON - One of Columbiana County Recorder Craig Brown's requests to upgrade the office was finally approved.
Brown recently learned his application for a $100,000 interest-free state loan to continue efforts to digitize documents had been approved by the Ohio Department of Development's Local Government Innovation program.
"There is no doubt in my mind that this project will be used to assist issues other entities are currently facing or will be facing as a result of interest in natural gas and oil exploration in our region," he said in a news release.
This is continuation of a project approved in November by county commissioners that allowed Brown to enter into a joint venture with Chesapeake Energy to digitize all recorder office documents. Chesapeake agreed to pay the $250,000 cost, with the $100,000 state loan used to continue those efforts by redacting Social Security numbers on digitized documents.
Brown said Chesapeake's involvement and the state loan "helped us avoid the need to come up with a huge local government financial contribution."
The loan requires matching funds from the county, and Brown is using the money being spent by Chesapeake as his local match, which will further save the county money. The loan will be repaid with a portion of the fee charged for recording documents.
In related news, Brown announced the company that offered to pay the cost of placing all county deeds online dating back to 2000 has withdrawn its offer after county commissioners declined to give their approval.
Lending Processing Services had offered to pay the estimated $34,000 costs of placing the records online, which included $31,000 to cover the web-hosting and bandwidth fees for the first three years. LPS, which provides data to the mortgage and loan industry, said the arrangement is cheaper than sending an employee to the county to do the research.
"Overall, I'm pretty disappointed that the commissioners couldn't see the value in this opportunity. This is something that would have really helped local residents and businesses that are trying to invest in our community," Brown said.
Commissioners were concerned about the possible loss of recording fee revenue by placing records online, but Brown said they could make it so the documents can only be viewed online.
The commissioners were also concerned about absorbing the web-hosting and bandwidth fees after the first three years expired and possible liability over security concerns if private information mistakenly made it online.