On Wednesday, December 15, 2010, the Lackawanna County Commissioners unanimously approved upgrades to their property records management system, providing comprehensive property records searches online for free.
Noting that "government is not in the business to make money," but rather "to provide a service," the Lackawanna County Recorder of Deeds, Evie Rafalko McNulty, sought out a vendor who would be able to digitize and computerize 171 handwritten index books for records from 1878 to 1976. In addition, the system will provide an interface with other county agencies and departments, such that the information provided in any one document will need to be entered just once and then may be shared among various county agencies. The system will also enable the Recorder's Office to set up a temporary location and record documents anywhere. The tentative starting date for the implementation of the system is April 1, 2011, but all of the indices may not be available at the launch.
Despite the costs of the new system, Ms. Rafalko McNulty said the Recorder's Office will be able to reduce its budget by $10,000 per year. She will also be able to sleep easier at night because she "felt we were just generating revenue for [the previous vendor]." Even if other recorder's offices were not interested in providing free public records online before, perhaps they may be enticed after seeing an improvement where it matters most: the bottom line.