Friday, February 2nd, 2007
Prices vary locally
By William Kincaid
After completing a local government survey, Auglaize County Recorder Ann Billings decided to change copy costs to 25 cents apiece in 2005 - $1.75 cheaper than the Mercer County Recorder's current charge.
Billings told the newspaper that her office used to charge $1 per copy before increasing the cost to $2 at the recommendation of the Ohio Attorney General in 2003.
However, in 2005, Billings said the Attorney General reversed the opinion and suggested that Ohio recorders charge "at cost" - or in other words, the physical cost of producing a copy, including paper and toner costs.
"I called our prosecutor (in 2005)," Billings said. "How the heck do we figure out (at cost)?"
Billings said the prosecutor suggested performing a local survey to determine the average cost for producing public document copies.
She also pointed out that citizens can inspect documents at the office or print copies from the online Web site - both services free of charge. Billings said the online archive dates back to 1984.
Sue Ellen Kohler, the Auglaize County Clerk of Courts, said her office has charged citizens 25 cents a page for public document copies for quite some time now.
"We had that rule at least five years," she told the newspaper. "That seems to be a fair price that people are willing to pay."
Kohler said it's her office's goal to have case docket sheets available online sometime this summer.
"A lot's going to depend on the legislation," she said. "Privacy issues are of prime importance ... we're just going to roll with the punches."
She also said that someday, the office may even provide document images online as well.
"We just want to serve the people the best we can," she said.