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Technology Speeds Document Recording for Indiana County

Lake County, Ind., recently launched an all-electronic recording process to enable heavy, and even just occasional, users of the recorder's office to submit documents and receive them back.

(TNS) — Property liens, mortgages and other essential documents are being recorded in Lake County more efficiently and accurately than ever before.

Lake County Recorder Gina Pimentel recently launched an all-electronic recording process to enable heavy, and even just occasional, users of the recorder's office to submit their documents and receive them back all without the need for anyone to retype anything, scan anything or even print anything.

"It saves them time because they're not bringing over a stack of paper documents, dropping them off, and we're not calling them to pick them up," Pimentel said. "It's less repetitive work and no paper."

"I don't know of anybody else in the state that has done something like this — certainly not the recorder's office. This is exciting to bring in and to try out."

The process uses a computer program known as FileMaker Pro — customized at Pimentel's direction by Onyx Electronics — to extract from a spreadsheet the data needed to generate a property lien, or similar recorded document.

In July, for example, Pimentel said the Merrillville Conservancy District used the system to electronically submit some 600 property liens tied to unpaid sewer bills that nearly instantaneously were transformed into official documents with all the required numbers and stamps.

After quality-control and accuracy checks by her staff, Pimentel said the recorded documents promptly were made available to the conservancy district to download for its records and to send to its delinquent customers.

Pimentel explained it previously would take two people in her office at least two or three days to scan and record a pile of 600 liens, and up to two weeks for the recorded documents to go back out.

"They still go through each document and double-check things ... Everything is reviewed before we actually record it," Pimentel said. "But it avoids them typing up 600 liens, which opens them up for other work that they could be doing."

Pimentel hopes that other work will come from local governments in Lake County that only intermittently use the recorder's office or may use it more now that paperwork hassles largely have been eliminated.

"We can open it up to all other cities and towns. It doesn't matter the amount of recordings or what kind of documents. We're happy to work with them," Pimentel said.

Pimentel also is prepared if recordings don't pick up. Her staff is in the third year of a three-year "backlog" project to improve the scanned images of documents recorded between 1969 and 2002, ensure the documents are correctly numbered and accurately filed.

"It was a huge project, almost 4 million documents that had to be redone," Pimentel said. "I'm really proud of that because now our documents will be as accurate as possible. It will be a lot easier to search, it will be a lot easier to view documents and to find them."

Documents recorded in Lake County since 1969 can be viewed online for free on the recorder's website: Official copies of recorded documents can be purchased at the $1 per page rate set by state law.

The costs of all-electronic recording, the backlog project, and a new indexing initiative set to begin next year are being covered using a portion of the $25 user fee assessed on all recorded documents, except mortgages which cost $55. No taxpayer dollars were spent on the recorder's office improvements.

"I always kind of just try to take things one step further, if possible," Pimentel said. "We using the money that we generate from recording fees to preserve these documents, to make these documents better."

© 2023 The Times (Munster, Ind.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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