Online document searches coming to Clerk's Office

Richard House, Chief Deputy of Daviess County Clerk's Office.

The Daviess County Clerk's Office, in conjunction with Louisville-based technology vendor Software Management LLC, is actively working toward having online document searches up and running by Feb. 1, said County Clerk Leslie McCarty.

Software Management LLC is a more than 20-year-old software firm that focuses on providing fully integrated PC-based system solutions for county clerks throughout Kentucky.

"As of now, if you are doing a mortgage or deed search or searching for any document, you have to look at our computers onsite," she said. "Beginning Feb. 1 citizens will be able to do that through the comfort of their own home or office. If you are a commercial entity, like a law firm, you will most likely have a subscription. Private citizens will be able to exercise a certain amount of documents a week. This will be really great for the genealogists in our community looking for past records of family members."

For lawyers and commercial title searchers, a monthly membership, depending on the number of documents that they commonly search in a day, will be required, said Richard House, deputy clerk.

"There will be a link for local residents and it won't cost them anything," he said. "The commercial use will be different from the general. For example, a lawyer

see searches/page b5

couldn't log on as an individual and do their whole title work. Those individuals looking for their own marriage license, mortgages, their parent's mortgages are very different from those organizations doing searches all day every day."

The searches aren't the only digital changes coming to the clerk's office as e-recording and e-notorization are on the horizon throughout the state, said House.

"Our vendor is currently working with Simplifile, CSC Global as well as ePN to test how these new resources are working," he said. "Right now they are working in Oldham County and will slowly work to put us and over 70 other county clerks online. Leslie (McCarty) has signed the memorandum of agreement and we are working toward a final start-up date."

The movement toward digitizing clerks' offices around the state comes in conjunction with increases in filing fees statewide that began on Jan. 1, he said.

"The price increases are in part meant to supplement any potential losses," he said. "We don't know what the outcome will be yet, but if I had to guess safely, in the beginning, I would say that we will lose between $5,000 to $7,000 a month. Over time we will lose more. This being said, not all of the records have been uploaded, so there will still be the need to come in and make copies the traditional way depending on how far back a private or commercial entity needs to search.

In 2019, members of the Kentucky Bankers Association, Bar Association and county clerks joined together to look at the future of the rates and the records process in the state, ultimately recommending the fee increases and the move into digitizing records. Their recommendations became the basis for Senate Bill 114, sponsored by Kentucky Minority Floor Leader Sen. Morgan McGarvey, a Louisville Democrat. The bill made its way through the 2019 legislative session and was formally signed by former Gov. Matt Bevin on March 25.

More than 60 filing fees were increased, with the most common being deeds, mortgages, marriage licenses, power of attorney and wills. Deeds will increase to $50 with an extra $3 built in per page after five pages compared to its traditional fee of $17. Mortgages will be increasing from $17 to $80, marriage licenses from $35.50 to $50, power of attorney from $17 to $50, and wills from $8 to $47.

The need for fee increases was based, in large part, off what surrounding states are charging for records filings, the fact that Kentucky has not seen an increase in filing fees since 2007, and to offset the costs associated with clerks' offices adopting digital filing practices.

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com

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