County recorder corrects scanner issue

LISBON – The document scanner problem in the Columbiana County Recorder’s Office is being corrected with a different scanner that will produce legible copies in the required size.

Recorder Theresa Bosel said she is purchasing a new scanner directly from Kodak for $3,495 to replace two scanners bought last October for $1,425 each. Those scanners have since been returned and the money refunded to the county.

The two scanners 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 refer to particular sizes and styles used for producing printed and digital material.

The recorder’s office staff discovered in February the digital conversion of some documents scanned since October were coming back illegible. It turns out the scanners were automatically reducing the size of documents prepared in 10-point font, thereby shrinking the text to where it was unreadable.

In response, Bosel posted notices about six weeks ago in the county courthouse saying her office would no longer accept documents presented in any font smaller than 12 points. Using the larger font size ensured scanned documents would remain legible when reproduced after being scanned.

Bosel said the cost of the new scanner was actually $5,495 but she was able to get it reduced by $2,000, using her personal credit card to make the purchase, “and hopefully I’ll be reimbursed,”

She said the Kodak representative is also allowing her to continue using the scanner demonstration model given to her to try out, at least through the summer, which will give the office two scanners during that period.

Meanwhile, her staff will continue to review previously scanned documents and, when needed, rescan them using the new equipment.

“I should have bought a $5,000 scanner right out of the gate, but I didn’t have the money,” Bosel said, adding that funding will continue to be a problem despite action taken last December by county commissioners in regard to implementation of a change in the recorder’s office fee structure.

The state-mandated change altered the division of revenue generated by the document recording fee, with the recorder’s office receiving an additional $3 per document for its equipment fund at the expense of the county general fund, which is controlled by commissioners.

At the time, commissioners believed the change would result in as much as $58,000 less per year for the general fund and $58,000 more for the recorder’s equipment fund. In anticipation of this occurring, commissioners cut Bosel’s general fund allocation by $15,000 in 2014, to $250,000.

Bosel does not expect the additional windfall for her equipment fund to materialize because she expects the number of documents being recorded to drop, as the oil and gas lease frenzy of 2010-12 continues to subside.

The newspaper looked at the figures and determined the number of documents being recorded declined by nearly 10 percent from 2012 to 2013 (1,694 per month to 1,528). The downward pace has accelerated this year, with the number of documents being recorded declining by 17.5 percent to 1,262 per month through the first five months of 2014.

Despite the decline in documents, recording fee income for the recorder’s equipment fund through May increased to $41,566, compared to $30,056 last year, but that is a direct result of the additional $3 being received per document.

Bosel said she needs to spend all of her equipment fund money on equipment and system upgrades, which was the purpose of the state-mandated increase, but the budget cut enacted by commissioners will likely force her to again use some of the money to pay for office wages and benefits. Approximately $2,898 was transferred last year from the equipment fund to subsidize personnel costs.

“Commissioners keep telling me to figure it out, that it’s my budget, but they cut my funding,” she said.

Bosel also pointed out commissioners chose to cut her general allocation at a time when almost every other officeholder received a 2 percent increase in 2014. She believes her overall shortfall could be as much as $50,000 by the end of the year.