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How A County Turned Four Dollars Into Hundreds
by Robert Franco | 2008/09/25 |

We recently did a title search for a client and it revealed a state tax lien that held things up for weeks.  The lien was not released, but the client insisted that they spoke with a state official who assured them that they sent a release of the lien to the county.  We checked again - still no release of record.  The client, again, spoke with the state office that filed the lien and was told that it was released.  This time we scoured the courthouse.  We asked everyone that could have possibly seen it.  Finally, we found it... but it was not recorded.

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This was our third trip to investigate this lien.  When we finally tracked it down, we were told that it had been received some time ago, but it did not come with the $4.00 required to record it.  Apparently nobody at the county wanted to call the state and tell them that they would not record its release  without the $4.00 release fee.  And, nobody thought they had the authority to record it without the fee.  So, it just sat on someone's desk waiting for $4.00.

My examiner reported this to the client.  I was half-amused and half-irritated.  That sounded like something only a government employee would do.  I asked my examiner why she didn't just pay the $4.00 and get it recorded.  She said that when she called the client to inform them of the situation they didn't ask her to do that.  Fair enough... it wasn't really our responsibility, but it was only $4.00 and it had been held up long enough. Sometimes, it is just cheaper, easier and faster to take care of these issues ourselves.

About a week later, I got a call from the client about this lien and she very politely asked if we could advance the $4.00 and bill them.  Of course, I was more than willing to do that, but I chuckled a bit.  I remarked that this had cost us, the client, the state, and the county far more than $4.00 to resolve this problem.  If you just add up the time everyone involved in this transaction wasted, and multiply that by everyone's hourly wage, this $4.00 quickly became hundreds of dollars in costs. 

The time it took:

  • for us to look for a lien that was sitting on someone's desk
  • for us to discuss the problem with the county clerk
  • for us to explain it to the client
  • for the client to listen to our explanation
  • for the client to figure out how to handle the situation
  • for the client to talk to the state official
  • for the state official to review the file
  • for the state official to explain to the client they had sent the release to the county
  • for the county to figure out what to do with a lien they couldn't record
  • for the county to explain to us why they didn't record the release

My point is that some problems just aren't worth the hassle.  We got caught up in a bureaucratic SNAFU over a measly $4.00.  Because the county wouldn't record this release, we wasted a considerable amount of time searching for it, only to find that it was sitting on someone's desk waiting for $4.00.  I suppose we could have billed our client for our additional time, but it wasn't really their fault either.  They also wasted considerable time over this issue. 

If only our government could reduce this kind of waste, we would all be amazed by how much money could be saved.  I understand that the county has its procedures and if they are going to reject a document because of insufficient fees, shouldn't they notify someone?  That just seems like common courtesy.  It could have saved everyone much more than the $4.00 at issue here.

Robert A. Franco



Categories: Public Officials

829 words | 3976 views | 5 comments | log in or register to post a comment

I know I've told you this story, but I will share it here

Several years ago, on the day of the tax deadline, I put a check to the IRS in my mailbox for the mailman to pick up.  Unbeknownst to me, the post office had raised postage by one cent since the last time I had purchased stamps.  When I looked in my mailbox the next day, I discovered that the mailman had not picked up my check and had put it back in my mailbox-- and with a ball point pen had drawn a picture of a one-cent stamp next to my inadequate stamp, to indicate my most grievous error! 

For a discrepancy of one cent-- certainly less than the amount of this postman's union wages for the time he wasted drawing this stamp-- my tax payment was late that year. 


by Slade Smith | 2008/09/25 | log in or register to post a reply

How A County Turned....

I can't beleive nobody sent that back to the State - big chickens if you ask me.  I am sure it was an oversight by the State and would have been made right had they been notified (yeah right).

You know darn well that if one of use tried to file it without the proper amount it would have been sent back regular mail (mostly likely gotten lost to boot) with a nasty letter letting us know of our mistake.  A phone call would have taken care of it and caused everyone less drama and cost.  I can't stand people that don't do their jobs!!  That is one of my biggest pet peaves.  Can you imagine what a great place America would be if everyone pulled there weight and boned up and did the best job they could without ripping off the little people (prime example - loan officers and lenders).  It would be truely amazing. 


by Clanci Nelson | 2008/09/26 | log in or register to post a reply

how a county turned $4.00 into hundreds

yep.... county employees are lazier than anyone i know. that is inexcusable. they should have sent a discrepency sheet notifying the state that they needed $4.00 to record the relese.

by charles jetter | 2008/09/29 | log in or register to post a reply

$4.00 into hundreds

Aren't governmantal entities exempt from recording fess?

by Gary Lyman | 2008/09/29 | log in or register to post a reply

County Turns $4.00 into hundreds

When I first read this I thought it was the county I work in.  I can not tell you how happy I get as a tax paying county citizen, when I walk into the Recorder's office to see one employee reading a novel and one surfing the net. This is after passing 3 of the 5 employees out on the lawn having a smoke. I am sure no one address this or a situation such as yours to the County Commissioner's. Even if someone did would they listen. Doubtful at best.

by Kathryn Glor | 2008/09/30 | log in or register to post a reply
Source of Title Blog

Robert A. FrancoThe focus of this blog will be on sharing my thoughts and concerns related to the small title agents and abstractors. The industry has changed dramatically over the past ten years and I believe that we are just seeing the beginning. As the evolution continues, what will become of the many small independent title professionals who have long been the cornerstone of the industry?

Robert A. Franco



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