Henderson County, N.C., Considers Putting Vital Records Online

County officials are looking at proposals to preserve physical copies of records like marriage licenses while making them available online. Some 80 counties in the state already offer these services.

by Charlotte Wray, Henderson Daily Dispatch / November 1, 2019
(TNS) — The county is looking into an online support and pay portal for those seeking vital records, but it'll also have to make sure hard copies of those same records are preserved — at a much higher cost.
During Monday's county technology committee meeting, officials discussed two items regarding the register of deeds: online service and preservation of records.
The records preservation concerns hard-copy marriage licenses from 1895-1920, a task the state requires, County Manager Jordan McMillen told the Dispatch. The state also requires the county and register of deeds to set aside a certain amount of their revenues for this preservation purpose.
"Older, hard [copies] are disintegrating and deteriorating," McMillen said, "so we need to bring a company in to basically clean and preserve those hard-copy records, which we're required to keep in perpetuity."
The county will use money from its "automation fund," to the tune of $20,270, McMillen said.
On Monday, the committee discussed the suggested preservation company and the process to hire it, and if they needed to ask interested companies to submit proposals.
"We're doing some additional research [and] we're going to bring that back at the full board meeting, but really this is the only company we've found in North Carolina that does it and the register of deeds does not want the records leaving the state," McMillen said.
The county has these records preserved electronically, but the state requires they maintain paper records "basically forever," McMillen said.
Though the documents are in an online database, the public isn't able to request records online at this time.
About 80 counties in the state offer an online system where people can request, order and pay for vital records, such as marriage licenses and birth certificates.
It's "time we implement" this, McMillen said. "It can cut down on foot traffic in the office ... it just prevents them from having to come here."
With the system, people will pay online with a credit or debit card and the record will be mailed to them. The current $10 charge, set by the state, won't change, but online customers will be required to pay a processing fee of $3.39.
These fees will go directly to the third party company managing the online system. The service will come at no cost to the county, as it's essentially a convenience fee that'll directly pay the company.
Just like the company for preserving hard copies of marriage licenses, the technology committee's respective commissioners questioned why this specific company was selected, and if the county needed to go through an request-for-proposals process. The register of deeds recommended the company, Permitium, to the committee.
"We're doing some additional research," McMillen said. "On this one, there are some other providers in the state that do this service, but this one is the leading provider, and it's also one of the leading providers [that] has the least amount of convenience fee for the citizens."
©2019 Henderson Daily Dispatch, N.C. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC


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