Local realtors question the legality of the process used by the Sweetwater County Clerk’s Office to determine the access fees for data-based records online.
A data-based access fee for the new iDoc Market has raised concerns from some local business owners. The iDoc Market program allows business owners to search mortgage records, land records, liens, warranty deeds, plats, and miscellaneous records such as power of attorney from their home or office.
Sweetwater County Clerk Cindy Lane said changes were made in order to backup hard-copied documents digitally in case a flood or fire were to occur at the courthouse and wipe out records.
Even though there is no cost to view the records at the courthouse through the Docupro system, there is a data-based access fee to look at the records online through the iDoc Market, Lane said. Those subscription fees include a $10 daily fee, $50 weekly, $150 monthly or $1,500 yearly for private or business use.
Lane said she looked at what other Wyoming counties were charging and how much it would cost to run the program to determine what to charge.
Wyoming Counties Online Data-access Fee Charges per year
According to Lane, it will cost $53,748 per year to run the program through Tyler Technologies, which is roughly $4,500 per month. Lane’s hoping the access fees will help recoup at least half of what it will cost the county to provide the service. Lane said about 42 Wyoming residents are currently using this program.
Some business owners, including local realtors Mikaela Inman and Mandy Camphouse Allred, have already paid the $1,500 annual fee.
Even though they paid the fee, both are questioning the process used to implement the iDoc Market program as well as how much is being charged to access the information.
Allred believes the yearly fee is “excessive” and she questioned how it was implemented without notifying the public.
“I feel that public records should be made available to the public for a reasonable fee, which should be discussed, not imposed,” Allred said.
Inman claims the Wyoming Administrative Procedure Act was violated by Lane when no notice, such as a 45-day notice, was given prior to the change.
Lane said in an interview, she didn’t have to give a 45-day notice because she wasn’t changing public record fees. These are subscription fees to business owners to access the documents online for their convenience.
Lane planned on putting press releases out to notify the public of the program and fees, however, Tyler Technologies implemented the program without her notice. The program went live November 5.
Lane did want to apologize for the iDoc Market launch going up without notice. She wanted to make announcements and give people time to learn about the new program prior to the launch.
“I apologize for that inconvenience,” Lane said.
Allred stated in an email that during the December 3 Sweetwater County Commissioner meeting, she expressed her concerns and the commissioners said they were unaware a fee was implemented.
“The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing,” Allred said. “I find this ineffective and a disappointment for our community.”
On August 6, the commissioners approved an amendment to upgrade from the iDoc 4.5 Market to the iDoc 5 Market with Tyler Technologies.
Commission Chairman Wally Johnson said he recalled approving the upgrade originally in August, but the fees never came before the commission.
Commissioner Jeffrey Smith, liaison to the Sweetwater County Clerk’s Office, said the issue of accessing the documents did not come before the commission because it is up to the County Clerk’s Office.
“That’s not our department,” Smith said.
Since the December 3 Commission meeting, Lane has been speaking with Inman and Allred to address their concerns, however Allred and Inman do not feel their concerns have been addressed and are now seeking an attorney’s guidance to determine whether or not Lane followed the WAPA.
“The end goal is to have Cindy Lane removed from office if she did not follow procedure, which we believe she did not,” Allred said.
Inman and Allred have started a petition against the fees.