County recorder working to fix scanner issue

LISBON – New scanner machines purchased in October by the Columbiana County Recorder’s Office are creating unreadable digital copies in many instances, something Recorder Theresa Bosel says she is working to correct.

“I’m trying to find a solution, and I’ll work it out,” she said.

The two scanners, which cost $1,425 each, were supposed to produce legible digital copies based on paper documents submitted in 10-point font size, which is the minimum size required by Ohio law for documents to be recorded. Fonts are particular sizes and styles of type used for producing printed and digital material.

Bosel said her staff discovered in late February the digital conversion of some documents scanned during the previous quarter were coming back illegible. It turns out in many instances the scanners were automatically reducing the size of documents prepared in 10-point type.

“It shrinks the text to where the text cannot be read and can’t be reproduced” in a legible format, she said.

In response, Bosel posted notices in the county courthouse saying her office would no longer accept documents presented in any font smaller than 12 points. She said requiring the use of the larger font size ensures the documents will be legible once scanned.

When asked if this conflicted with state law, Bosel pointed out the law gives recorders discretion when accepting documents that fail to completely conform with the law.

Bosel said they are continuing to accept documents for recording that are still 10 point, but the person is warned it may not result in a legible reproduction. “I’m not rejecting or refusing to file any documents due to non-compliance” with the notice, she said.

Notices were sent to banks and title companies.

Although there was speculation around the courthouse this could potentially create some problems, it did not seem so with some of the people who record deeds, mortgages and other documents on a regular basis.

“As far as an impact on us, it doesn’t, because we don’t prepare deeds,” said Gary Evans, who operates McMillan Abstract, a Lisbon title agency.

Evans said attorneys are the only ones allowed by law to prepare certain documents, such as deeds, and he does not know of any attorneys who would charge their clients extra for reproducing a document in 12-point font size to have it rescanned.

East Palestine attorney David Powers said he can adjust to Bosel’s request by simply changing the font size on the computer he uses to produce documents. He said the change could pose more of a problem for companies that mass produce deeds, mortgages, etc., using a specific software program.

Bosel, who said she has not received any complaints, is working to correct the problem, and on Friday the scanner manufacturer pledged to work with her to make things right. “We will do what it takes to ensure they are legible,” she said.

Bosel said she has no choice but to make the changes because the office cannot continue to scan documents knowing they might be unable to produce legible copies since that would violate the law.

“The last thing I want to do is create a liability for the county, and I wouldn’t do that,” she said.

Bosel said she did her due diligence before purchasing the scanners, checking out five different brands and then asking Cott Systems, the company under contract to maintain the recorder office’s operating system, to review the machines’ operating specifications.