Editor’s Note: This is the eighth of 13 weekly columns on Clinton County departments leading up to the celebration of the courthouse’s 100th anniversary celebration. Today’s column features the Clinton County Recorder’s Office.
Brenda Huff is your County Recorder; she began working in the Recorder’s Office in 2000, under the direction of Sandra Wilt. In 2006, she was appointed to the position of County Recorder and has three times been elected.
The office has two employees: Barbara Shutts, Fee-System Document Recording Clerk; and Leslie Wyatt, Document Audit Clerk. The office is located on the 2nd floor of the courthouse.
The County Recorder’s office contains the “Official Land Records” for the entire county, and quite possibly the most important office in the county when you consider that real estate purchases are still one of the largest investments that we make in our lifetime.
The County Recorder keeps all vital records related to the ownership in real estate and all encumbrances or liens upon it – the “Land Historian” for the county. Without the work of the County Recorder in recording, safekeeping and organizing all documents competently and logically, it would be nearly impossible to purchase land and be assured of a clear title or to lend money with land as security.
The Recorder is also the Chair and Secretary of the Microfilm Board which oversees the microfilming and acquisition of microfilming equipment for the county. The Board employs Sharon Allen, Imaging Technician.
The practice of recording real estate documents is based on the law in England which traveled to the New World with the colonists. A system of registration was necessary to prove the rights of persons first claims of property.
In 1803 when Ohio became a state, the first State Legislation mandated that a Recorder be appointed in each county by the judges of the Court of Common Pleas. In 1829 The Recorder’s office became an elective position.
The County Recorder maintains permanent public records in perpetuity. Examples of recorded documents include deeds, mortgages, easements, agreements, affidavits, mechanics liens, subdivision plats and surveys, leases, power of attorney, federal tax liens, military discharges, and assorted miscellaneous documents. These instruments are recorded and indexed for giving legal public notice of their existence, for safekeeping and future reference.
By state statute, the County Recorder maintains and preserves all legal documents affecting the title to real property. These records are the legal basis for determining ownership of the real property.
The County Recorder furnishes “Official Copies” of any record or instrument when required by law, ordered by the court, or requested by any party. All documents are public records except for military discharge records.
The County Recorder enforces more than 1,200 sections of state law in the Ohio Revised Code. The customers are the general public, attorneys, land title examiners, banks, genealogists, historians, and real estate professionals.
Since 2006, the Recorder has tracked a savings of $190,526 to the taxpayers of Clinton County.
Much of these savings have been made possible because of the utilization of the technology available at the time, and primarily, because of the staff and their commitment to perform much of the work in-house as time have permitted.
• The office staff have digitized 308,030 images and redacted personal information from 818,850 images.
• Less than 50% of the taxpayer savings have been used for the restoration and digitization of 890 subdivision plats and survey maps, plat record books, index books and making available online the index records for deeds and mortgages back to 1964.
• In 2014 the total budget for hardware and software used to perform the functions of the office was reduced from $3,400 a month, to $1,200 a month, and included the addition of eRecording of documents, online nightly backup to a secure site in Columbus, day-forward automatic redaction of personal information from documents, online website search and retrieval access and Property Fraud Alert, a notification service that will notify you by text and/or email of when a document is recorded with your name match.
All completed without the use of any general fund money or additional funding requests.
Over the next two months, the office will be modernizing its software and hardware and utilizing the internet to perform all work through a Bastion-hosted secure system, eliminating the need for a separate office server.
Due to the design of the new system, we are hopeful that our work will flow more efficiently while improving the service and the high accuracy and attention to detail that you have come to expect from the Recorder’s Office.