LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Clearing the record on on Kent County Recorder of Deeds Office

This letter is in response to statements made by Eugenia Thornton in her press release, Facebook page but most of all comments contained in her paid advertisements in this very newspaper.

The Recorder of Deeds offices in all three counties are basically considered a library, but responsible for indexing and maintaining copies of legal documents pertaining to land, mortgages,appointments, etc.

We are not permitted to make changes to any documents nor are we permitted to give legal advice. The Recorder’s office is simply stated “to serve the citizens of Kent County, by correctly recording and indexing documents in a timely fashion and by courteously responding to request for help and information, and by collecting and properly accounting for the appropriate fees related to the requests. If a document is considered nonconforming, it is returned to the sender with a cover letter explaining why it was returned.

We have a state-of-the-art computer system including software (which is scheduled to be upgraded) as this letter is being written. We have five public terminals and 12 research terminals for the use of title searchers on a daily basis. These terminals are for research and printing only. No changes can be made to any document on our system.

Home Owners Associations: Anyone filing documents in our office pays a fee. Associations filing liens against owners may be a simple lien on a property owner when the property owner does not cut their grass and the association has to hire someone to do it. The property owner is billed but if they don’t pay, the association will then file a lien. This is just an example of many issues between an association and a property owner.

Realty Transfer Fee: That is set by the General Assembly and the increase they adopted in 2017 has already been addressed in 2018 by HB 380. Refunds are being issued by the state of Delaware. Recorder’s office has no control over realty transfer other than to collect it and forward it on to the state and/or municipalities.

Fix or Remove Broken Equipment in the Professional Area: The gate in front of the deeds office has been out of commission for a few weeks. It is not part of deeds office and is the responsibility of the building maintenance. If a computer terminal should go down, the IT department is called and they come and fix it as soon as they have someone available. They serve every office in the county government and may not get to us the day we call.

As stated before, we have a state-of-the-art software system along with our hardware, which we own. We are scheduled for total upgrade right now and that will be taking place as soon as all bids are in and reviewed.

Mrs. Thornton recently mentioned on Facebook that I have a dinosaur microfiche machine that is broken. Yes, there is one and it is broken but it is not on our inventory, it belongs to the Register of Wills who needed space. We allowed them to utilize a small area for the machine and a file cabinet full of tapes. It made it convenient for the title searchers to have it in the Deeds Office. The IT department has declared it unfixable and it is up to the Wills Office as to what they are going to do with it.

Betty Lou McKenna
Kent County Recorder of Deeds

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ms. McKenna, a Democrat, is seeking re-election in November.

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