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Recorder’s office says no more IOUs for copies

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If you want a copy of a property deed to finalize a home sale or settle a will, you will no longer be able to run a tab at a county office.

The county recorder’s office, which keeps track of property lines, mortgages and deeds, recently collected delinquent copy fees that totaled $150,000.

And officials say no more IOUs will be accepted. If you need to make a copy of a document, you will have to pay up.

Most of the unpaid copy fees were for title searchers, who sift though documents looking for copies of property deeds commonly used to finalize home sales.

Often visit the Johnson County Recorder’s office multiple times a day.

In the past, those searchers found their document and made the copies, which cost $1 per page. Instead of paying when they made the copies, they would add those fees to their account because it was easier and quicker.

About 50 searchers had accumulated a $150,000 tab when Recorder Jill Jackson began her term in January 2011. The money received from copies goes into the office’s perpetuation fund, which pays for everything in the office except salaries, including equipment and supplies. Copy fees typically make up 15 to 20 percent of the revenue collected by the office, Jackson said.

Copy that

What the Johnson County Recorder’s Office has collected over the past four years:

2013:    $834,471

2012:    $789,542

2011:     $722,574

2010:    $650,000

The office was able to function without the money, but with the tabs a few employees had to spend several hours a month sending out bills. Those bills also added up in costs for stamps and envelopes, Jackson said.

“We’re here to record documents and not be a banking company,” she said.

Jackson made a new rule: Copying fees are now paid up front before documents are received.

And she went after the money that was owed for copying costs. She sent letters to the title searchers notifying them of the change. A few angry title searchers visited Jackson, but all of the unpaid bills were paid off within about four months, she said.

The office collected $722,574 during Jackson’s first year as recorder, compared with about $650,000 the previous year.

Jackson also worked with the businesses that frequently buy copies of property deeds. Some title searchers are hired as a contractor, so they preferred having a tab that would be paid by their employer instead of going through a reimbursement process. Now, businesses have the option of purchasing a prepaid card that can be used to pay for copies.

The recorder’s office didn’t have much trouble getting payments, but they also had leverage because searchers can’t get the documents they need elsewhere, Jackson said.

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