GRAFTON COUNTY REGISTRY OF DEEDS
Kelley Jean Monahan Register
Annual Report Fiscal Year 2019
To the Citizens of Grafton County, the Honorable Commissioners and Delegation Members:
It is a great privilege to present my ninth annual report. The protection of the vast and valuable database of records is solely my responsibility. I am obligated with the responsibility of balancing access for the public and professionals who rely on the Registry to conduct the vital task of the legal transfer of real property and protection of these records from those seeking to cause harm. County and local governments have seen an enormous spike in Ransomware attacks over the past two years. Although this threat is unmentioned in our dedicated statues on duties of office, I take this modern threat very seriously and have taken many precautions to prevent such an attack here.
Five years ago, I made the decision to remove the images of the documents for viewing to the entire world free of charge and established tiers of access that I hoped would protect the records from harm until our conversion to our new, more secure system was in place. Much of FY19 was dedicated to the final phases of this conversion. I also made the decision to allow open access once again.
We are sacrificing the additional $45,000 per year in revenue from the house accounts, where the account holders had been charged a modest $120 per year. I made the decision based on my confidence in our new system, in our software partner, Fidlar Technologies, but primarily because I believe that open access is the best choice for the overall economy of the county.
We held many live trainings and webinars for our regular users and our municipal governments. Changing the search system that has been in place since the mid-1980s was a challenging concept for many. It was very gratifying to watch the harshest critics won over as the many time saving features and efficiencies were demonstrated.
In December, I was elected by my peers to become the Vice President of the New Hampshire Register of Deeds Association. This position kept me in Concord a great deal of the time testifying and listening to debate on bills that affect the Registries of Deeds. I see a pattern of lack of understanding of the unintended consequences of legislation that affects these offices. Most bills have been voted inexpedient to legislate or vetoed by the Governor.
This office derives revenue from nine sources. Acting as an agent of the New Hampshire Department of Revenue, we collect the Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) and the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) fee for the State of New Hampshire. We retain 4% of these fees as the collecting agent.
The nominal recording fees are the rates set per document for recordings. These rates are published on our website at www/nhdeeds.com.
We charge a very modest $1.00 per page for copies. This is a valuable service to our constituents and those looking to invest in property in Grafton County. By securing protections from screen scraping and hacking, we have secured the $94,573.00 that we received from the copy review at $1.00 per page.
Tapestry is a convenience system that is very useful for the title industry. Those searching multiple counties in multiple states use one system and one login to complete their research. The revenue from this option has continued to grow at an impressive rate.
The surcharge is a fee of $2.00 on all documents statutorily is dedicated capital equipment expense line. Reference RSA 487:17-g. The county auditors, county administrator and I have removed the surcharge from the revenue line, as it is a capitol reserve account intended solely for the use of the Registry of Deeds.
Postage is considered an income from the submitter, that is then expensed as the original documents are returned via United States Postal Service. We now receive more than half of our documents via e-recording, resulting in a steady decrease in postage expense.
The interest is derived from the surcharge funds invested in an annual Certificate of Deposit monitored by the County Treasurer.
The surcharge is a fee of $2.00 on all documents statutorily is dedicated capital equipment expense line. Reference RSA 487:17-g. The county auditors, county administrator and I have removed the surcharge from the revenue lines, as it is a capitol reserve account intended solely for the use of the Registry of Deeds. We average approximately $30,000 per year to this fund. This fund finances many of our one-time equipment needs, without impact to the taxpayer.
FY20 Revenue Total $998,854.05
RETT Recording Fees Online Services LCHIP Copies Postage Interest Tapestry
$421,650.00 $399,758.04 $45,500.00 $11,515.00 $94,573.26 $3,975.59 $1,718.66 $20,113.50
Revenue estimation requires me to analyze the health of our real estate market in Grafton County. Now that the 10 years of conflict over the Northern Pass project is completely behind us, I expect the property value in the county to continue to increase unfettered by the uncertainty over the fate of this project.
Our office recorded 15,068 documents to the Official Public record in FY2019. Receiving, processing and redistributing $10,997,351.81 to NH DRA, LCHIP and Grafton County.
FY20 closed with a $77,854.05 surplus over our anticipated revenue goal of $921,000.000, which is appropriated to the general fund to help offset the tax burden of our citizens.
Kelley Jean Monahan
Register of Deeds