Highland County recorder Chad McConnaughey addresses commissioners during their Jan. 22 meeting. Also pictured is county engineer Chris Fauber. (HCP Photos/Caitlin Forsha)
Highland County recorder Chad McConnaughey addresses commissioners during their Jan. 22 meeting. Also pictured is county engineer Chris Fauber. (HCP Photos/Caitlin Forsha)
Highland County commissioners Jeff Duncan, Terry Britton and Gary Abernathy heard a report from Highland County recorder Chad McConnaughey during their Wednesday, Jan. 22 meeting.

McConnaughey provided commissioners with a two-page report of highlights from his office for the year 2019 — including data on recorded documents, monies collected and ongoing or completed projects — as well as goals for 2020. The recorder’s office includes McConnaughey, chief deputy Holly Schutte and deputy Mitzi Schneider.

“We’ve had a very busy year, and we just wanted to share some of the accomplishments we’ve achieved this year through the recorder’s office,” McConnaughey told commissioners.

According to McConnaughey’s report, a total of 6,110 documents were recorded in 2019, with $356,248.68 collected. Of that total, $150,434.18 goes into the General Fund; $176,529.50 goes into the state Housing Trust Fund; and $29,285 go into the S-12 Equipment Fund for the recorder’s office.

“The S-12 fund is what I run my technology through,” McConnaughey said. “It pays for my vendors, computers downstairs that do all of our imaging, so I’m able to fund that completely through my equipment fund and not have to use General Fund money for that.”

McConnaughey said that 2019 marked the office’s “first full year of e-recording,” where entities such as “attorneys and banks can e-record documents.”

“We currently do not e-record documents that include conveyances, so if a deed is involved, we do not do that because it is a three-step process here in the county,” McConnaughey said, adding that the tax map office and auditor’s office are also involved. “One of my goals, you’ll see, is to include conveyances in our e-recording this year at some point, if Chris [Fauber, engineer] and Bill [Fawley, auditor] are OK with that.”

The recorder added that this would be done “at no cost to the county” and will “allow submitters to have a much quicker process.”

Comparing the past five years, the number of documents recorded and the number of monies collected was at its highest in 2019, with McConnaughey also noting a fee increase of $6 per document began in October 2019, in conjunction with House Bill 166.

“That number can vary,” McConnaughey said of the 2019 totals. “The mortgage field and how many times mortgages are being refinanced plays a big part in our documents because as you can see, deeds [1,700 in 2019] and mortgages [1,328] are our top recorded documents.”

McConnaughey highlighted some of the top projects from 2019, including a wall photo display featuring the past 32 county recorder and other historical photos in an effort to “bring history back to the office.” He plans to work to find more photographs of past recorders to add to the wall this year.

“I just want it to be clear that is at my expense,” McConnaughey said. “I am doing that out of my pocket, not general fund monies.”

Another major undertaking completed by the office was archiving the office’s inventory of microfilm records and transporting them to a climate-controlled storage facility in Montgomery County, according to the recorder.

“We really were focused on cleaning up a lot of our documents, cleaning up a lot of our archives,” McConnaughey said. “I realized that a lot of our film was being stored incorrectly out at Southern State college at their library. I basically, with the help of my staff, did a complete inventory of our microfilm. We found a home for it in Montgomery County because they have climate control storage there, which is how microfilm is to be stored.

“Microfilm is deemed to be the best means of storage, and if it’s done properly and put on good film it’s supposed to last 500 years, so obviously that’s pretty vital for us, keeping all those old films in the best shape possible.”

McConnaughey also briefly discussed his office’s work to help with century farm searches, in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The recorder said there are currently 36 Highland County farms registered in the ODA program.

“One of the latest ones we did this past year was for the Cowgill family,” McConnaughey said. “That farm is 210 years old, so it’s actually a bicentennial farm. We were really pleased to be able to be involved with that and help the family search that back through time.”

Other 2019 projects in McConnaughey’s report include:

• Work with deed books, including bundling of images; back-scanning 14 books to add to online inventory; verifying scans for proper imagery in 30 books; and back-indexing of deed books, which he said is an ongoing project that will continue into 2020.

• Reorganizing and back-indexing record plats and scanning them to make them available online.

• Upgrading office computers and finalizing the upgrade of vendor for imaging/indexing from 2018.

• McConnaughey also gave multiple presentations on the recorder’s office throughout the year, which he will also continue in 2020.

In addition to the aforementioned goals for 2020, McConnaughey said they will continue to “work to clean up records storage and retention with other county offices,” while another goal is to upgrade their fax capabilities.

“We do a lot of faxing, and I’m going to have that included into my Canon copier that we lease through Canon,” McConnaughey told commissioners. “It’s going to be cheaper for the county because I’m not going to be buying near as many cartridges.”

McConnaughey and his deputies are also collaborating on an office procedural manual to outline “how our office runs and how documents are taken care of so that anyone could step in and follow the steps and run our office if need be.”

“We feel that’s important, just to make sure our office is able to be taken care of when it needs to be,” McConnaughey said.

Commissioners thanked the recorder for his report. “Thank you for what you do for us,” Duncan told McConnaughey. “That’s great.”

• • •

At 9 a.m., commissioners held a bid opening for reinforced concrete storm sewer pipe for the Highland County Engineer’s Office. Commissioners opened one bid from Fonterra in the amount of $78,630.91. Later, when the commissioners were in recess, they determined that they had received another bid, from Rinker, in the amount of $87,695.04.

No action was taken on the bids, pending county engineer Chris Fauber’s review and approval.

• • •

In other action, commissioners approved the following resolutions, each by a 3-0 vote:

• A request from the Sheriff for an additional appropriation from unappropriated funds in the amount of $596.75.

• A request from Job and Family Services for a reimbursement of funds from CSEA to Public Assistance H-00 in the amount of $8,317.75 for December 2019 Child Support Shared Cost Distribution.

• An additional appropriation from unappropriated funds to Lakeside Sewer, Other Expense in the amount of $1,500.

• A request from the Sheriff for an additional appropriation from unappropriated funds in the amount of $1,245.20.

• Commissioners also voted 3-0 to approve Tom House as the county’s apiary inspector for 2020. Britton said that House is currently looking for a replacement to take over that role in 2021.

Following the recorder’s presentation, commissioners adjourned before touring the Highland County Family Advocacy Center.