WESTERLY — Lawyers, title companies, banks and others who regularly record documents at the Town Clerk's Office have a new option — rather than going to Town Hall in person or using the mail, the service is now available online.
"We're really excited, it should be very efficient," said Town Clerk Donna Giordano said during an interview on Wednesday.
The service, which went into effect Monday, allows for the recording of documents such as deeds, mortgages, releases, assignments and Uniform Commercial Code filings. Recording is the act of putting documents into the official municipal records.
The electronic service will reduce foot traffic and copying and paper expenses at the Town Clerk's Office, reduce mailing expenses for those recording documents and improve turnaround time, Giordano said.
"It's very simple to use and I think will make it easier to record, and turnaround time is almost instant," Giordano said.
Four companies will provide the electronic recording services. The town contracted with Simplifile LLC of Provo, Utah, eRecording Partners Network LLC. of Minneapolis, Indecomm Global Services of Edison, N.J., and Corporation Service Co. of Wilmington, Del. Payments are processed through the vendors, who retain a percentage of the recording fees, which are set by state law. The vendors can also charge an additional fee. There is no cost to the town for working with the four vendors.
Giordano said Westerly is the first municipality in the state to offer e-recording. Knowing that a state law allowing the new process was set to take effect on July 1, Giordano said she contracted with the vendors and had her staff use the service on a test basis.
Users of the service will visit one of the four vendors' websites and transmit documents electronically through secure websites. Electronic copies of the documents will be sent to the Town Clerk's Office for review before they are officially recorded.
"If there's a problem or they are incomplete we can send them back," Giordano said.
The old-fashioned system will remain in place for those who want to stop into Town Hall or mail their documents. "This gives them another opportunity. For people from out of state this makes it a lot easier for them," Giordano said.
The new system is the latest e-filing method implemented by the town. The Town Clerk's Office previously partnered with the state to allow for electronic vital records requests, and online permitting for building, demolition, electrical, mechanical, moving, and plumbing permits has been in place for about two years.