The cost of doing business at the county clerk's office is about to go up. Increased fees for filing documents, including deeds, wills and marriage licenses, will take effect at the beginning of the new calendar year.
In some cases, the fees will be three or four times what they are now. The changes are statewide.
The Kentucky General Assembly approved the adjustments earlier this year and will take effect in January 2020.
While county governments had nothing to do with it, counties will benefit in the form of new revenue designed to help offset the cost to clerks for digitizing records.
This is the first big increase in fees for county clerks' offices since 2007.
"It's going to help the county, and it's going to help my office," said Lyon County Clerk Lori Duff. "It's a much needed increase."
Duff said that, in part, the Kentucky County Clerk's Association pushed for the increase to counter the cost of modernizing recordkeeping in Kentucky's 120 counties. The new rates include a $10 permanent records fee for that purpose.
The Lyon County Clerk said her office keeps a hard copy of each filing, but started digitizing old and current records about 15 years ago. Grants to help pay for the process are hard to come by, she added.
"We've been struggling to keep up with that cost," Duff said, "but we couldn't change our fees to offset them."
The restructured fees allow lenders and other third-party entities to better gauge their costs for filing documents.
More than 60 filing fees will go up in 2020, but the following are some of the fee changes for common documents:
• Deeds and power of attorney -- both currently $17 for the first three pages and $3 for each additional page, but the new fee will be $50 for the first five and $3 for each additional one.
• Marriage license -- currently $35.50, but will increase to $50.
• Mortgages -- currently $17 for the first three pages and $3 for each additional page, but the fee will go to $80 for the first 30 pages and $3 for each additional page.
• Wills -- were an $8 flat fee, but now they will be $47 for the first five pages and $3 for each additional page.
Duff's office will not receive all of the new revenue generated by each fee increase. The state will receive anywhere from $4 to $22 of each adjustment.
The clerk said legislation enacting the new fee schedule allows for counties to electronically file documents. However, because of the cost to upgrade equipment and acquire new software, Duff said it is not cost effective at this time for her office to make that change.
A copy of the new filing rates is available in Duff's office.
(Kentucky Today contributed to this story.)