County clerks making progress on e-recording mandate
With a statutory deadline to establish online portals for all 120 county clerk offices in Kentucky just nine months away, officials say most county clerks are in the process of implementing e-recordings for titles, deeds, mortgages and other recorded instruments. Representatives from the Kentucky County Clerks Association (KCCA) provided lawmakers with an update on Senate Bill 135 during September’s meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Local Government.
KCCA Treasurer and Grant County Clerk Tabatha Clemons said 56 counties currently have a system in place that allows legal records to be filed and made available electronically via a website, with more than 60,000 documents digitally recorded since 2020. Another 59 county clerks have contracts in place with vendors that can use e-recording software.
Senate Bill 135 was signed into law this past spring to modernize county clerk operations. The measure requires all county clerks to provide and maintain a website that allows electronic filing of land records by June 30, 2023.
“There are several county clerks who are shadowing in our counties to see how e-recording works day to day to try to implement that in their own counties as the deadline is coming near,” Clemons told the committee.
Clerks may apply for grants and use funds from a $10 fee collected on all recorded instruments to cover costs of their online portal. Lawmakers also approved $25 million in funding support, but Clemons pointed out that the appropriation is only for FY 2024, which starts one day after the June 30 deadline.
“We do request that we push back the deadline by six months so that our counties that need extra assistance … would be able to meet the requirement of the bill.”
Clemons said there are five counties that have not yet engaged with a vendor for setting up an e-recording system, but KCCA continues to work on educating clerks about the process and funding options.
An online system for PVAs
Committee members also heard from the Kentucky Department of Revenue and two property valuation administrators about the benefits of developing an online system for tangible property tax returns. The current mainframe system was developed in 1988 and requires PVA offices to manually enter tangible returns. Franklin County PVA Kellie Lang and Fayette County PVA David O’Neill told the committee that the current system is very time-consuming and requires manual proofreading to check for errors.
An online filing system would allow taxpayers or their representative to file tax returns through a secure portal. Committee co-chair Sen. Robby Mills sponsored legislation during the 2022 Regular Session for the creation of an online system, but the measure stalled in the House.