Barren County Clerk Helena Chase Birdwell displays birdhouses made from license plates that are for sale in the clerk's office. The proceeds go to help veterans. 

GLASGOW – Certain types of fees in county clerk's office are increasing as of Jan. 1 as part of a statewide aim to make the fees and how they are applied more consistent, Barren County Clerk Helena Chase Birdwell said.

The fees are all in the recording department, which is where deeds, mortgages, plats, marriage licenses, wills after they've been through probate and a host of other documents are processed.

“Most all of these are double to triple,” she said.

Individual clerks like Birdwell are not responsible for the change, she emphasized.

“This has been in the works for two years,” she said. “It's my understanding that a panel of lending companies [banks, title companies, etc.], attorneys, clerks and legislators were brought on in this decision process.”

The goal was to make them consistent and more current with today's costs, but it wasn't so much that the fees themselves weren't the same in each county, as how fees were applied to certain types of recordings that was inconsistent, said Deputy Clerk Glenna Jo Bacon. She said some clerk's offices may record a deed as a mortgage or vice versa.

Once the panel arrived at its recommendations, those were approved by the state legislature.

Birdwell said it's been about 25 or 30 years since the last time fees were increased for the recording department, so the revenue from other areas was helping to subsidize that work, so part of the increase will stay in the county to help with those costs.

“It costs a lot of money to store these records,” she said.

Lenders are required to disclose exactly what charges will be included in loan amounts, so fees need to be known and this will make those amounts the same across the commonwealth, she said.

As part of this process, the panel surveyed surrounding and other states for comparison of their fees, with the aim of having Kentucky be roughly in the middle of the road, Birdwell said. Also, some of the numbers of pages allowed for the initial fee without having to pay extra. For example, mortgages average 20 pages, and the new allowance is 30 pages.

Examples of some of the increases are: Mortgages will be $80 instead of $17, one of the largest bumps among the most common recordings. Power of attorney is going from $17 to $50; marriage licenses are going from $35.50 to $50; wills after probate, from $8 to $47; deeds, $17 to $50; and plats, $26.50 to $50.

The clerk's office will be open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 31, but no front-line transactions such as car registrations and title transfers will be available due to a planned system upgrade; however, the recording department will be able to process transactions under the current fees, she said.

If documents are received Jan. 1 in person or through the mail, even if it's postmarked in December, the new fees will apply.

“So I encourage people, if you have something that you're trying to get done or you need to get recorded, come and get that taken care of,” Birdwell said.

Changes will be taking place Jan. 1 for notary publics as well, she pointed out.

The application process can be completed online as well as in the office, but the certificate will have to be picked up in the clerk's office. The fee will be the same at $19, but now they will be required to have a bond and show proof of it and they have to complete a training, but the site is not quite ready, she said.

It will still be free for veterans to place a DD214 on file at the clerk's office to have a copy scanned for recording there in a safe place so veterans or their families can access the information if needed, should something happen to the original.

On an unrelated note, Birdwell mentioned that birdhouses made from license plates are for sale in the clerk's office, with money from the sales will go to help veterans in hospitals, nursing homes, etc. with needs that are not being met.

“Obviously here in Barren County, I support our veterans, and as a new clerk, thought it would be a great opportunity to get involved in giving back to this program, so I asked for a shipment,” she said.

The order of 30 arrived Monday. The cost is $20, which is a donation to Hope for Veterans.

If there's a particular type of plate someone wants that is not there, she can order it, she said.

“We're excited to have folks come by and check these out,” Birdwell said.

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