County recorder renews request for portion of fees

LISBON — Columbiana County Recorder Theresa Bosel is asking for permission to resume keeping a portion of the fee charged for recording documents after county commissioners failed to act on last year’s request.

Bosel submitted her request to commissioners this week, who formally accepted it at Wednesday’s meeting but did not take any action. The request asks the approval be for 2020 through 2025.

Bosel, commissioners and the county auditor were embroiled in a dispute last month over whether she was allowed to continue having some of the recording fees be deposited in her equipment fund. The recorder’s office charges a recording fee of $28, with half automatically going to the state Housing Trust Fund. Another $6 goes into the county general fund, where it can be used by commissioners for whatever purpose they want.

The remaining $8 — representing two separate $4 fees — had been going into the recorder’s equipment fund. For the $8 to be posted to the equipment fund, Bosel must receive approval from commissioners every fall, which they have granted in the past. Bosel’s last request was submitted Sept. 28, 2018, and, for whatever reason, it was never acted upon.

Earlier this year, commissioners asked county Auditor Nancy Milliken to look into the fee issue, and she determined the time limit for both $4 fees had expired — one in 2017 and other other in 2018 — without receiving the necessary extensions from commissioners. In the absence of such approval, the entire $8 must go into the general fund.

Milliken and Commission Chairman Mike Halleck met with Bosel on July 8 to explain the fees should be deposited in the general fund for the remainder of the year to avoid any legal problems until she obtained permission to resume posting the fees to her equipment fund in 2020.

Bosel continued to have the fees posted into the equipment fund, which Milliken refused to do. Milliken asked commissioners to adopt a resolution telling Bosel to deposit the money in the general fund. Milliken was concerned because state law requires county money be deposited within 24 hours of being received, which was not being done because of the dispute.

Commissioners adopted the resolution, but the dispute continued. Bosel finally acceded to their wishes after Milliken received a legal opinion from the county prosecutor’s office. She maintains that commissioners and Milliken do not have the authority to deposit those fees into the general fund unless there is a fiscal emergency. Even then, only half of the $8 in fees could go into the general fund.

She also accused commissioners of failing to give her the permission she needed to continue collecting the fees, thereby creating the problem, and then trying to discredit her.

Halleck, who has promised to return the funds to Bosel, was asked after the meeting whether they will act on her most recent request.

“We will consider the request,” he said, but first they must determine whether her request letter complies with the law. Plus, Halleck said he wants to learn more about an item inserted at the last minute into the new two-year state budget that affects recorder fees.

According to the County Commissioners Association of Ohio website, the fee charged for recording a document when using photocopying was increased from a combined $28 to $34, with half still going to the state and half to counties.

tgiambroni@mojonews.com

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