Franklin County ponders computerizing court records

0

FARMINGTON – County commissioners heard a proposal Tuesday that would help manage the probate court docket system and related accounting and billing more efficiently while making documents available to the public on the Internet.

Nine counties including Oxford and Androscoggin have already agreed to go in on the software program, Oxford County Register of Probate Tom Winsor said Tuesday. Franklin County would be the 10th, if commissioners agree to spend $11,050 for the first year plus $1,000 for a commercial-grade scanner and $3,050 to $3,275 for four consecutive years after. Revenues would offset the costs.

Commissioners asked for time to review information making a decision.

Franklin County Register of Probate Joyce Morton said Tuesday that the software bought in 1992 for the docket system only allows for one computer to do docketing of cases in her office.

Winsor said that’s because it’s a disk-operating system that does what it does and does it well but is limited in its functions.

The software is not the tool it should be, he said.

Oxford County Probate Court opens 450 cases a year, he said, and Franklin County opens 250 cases. Both handle thousands of documents connected to cases.

One of the things that is frustrating, he said, is handling paper too much, which includes manually entering information in a case several times on different forms. The information also has to be microfilmed and backed up with hard files.

The state acted as a purchasing agent for the counties and put out requests for proposals with nine vendors submitting contract proposals last year, he said.

Icon Software Corp. of Georgia was chosen to provide the service.

The program would be owned by the county, he said, and would enable probate workers to scan the documents and other information into the computer.

The information could be easily pulled up on the computer screen for someone requesting it and faxed or e-mailed to them, he said. The public would also have access to review eligible documents over the Internet and print them out for a fee.

Morton said that she has set aside $11,000 in her budget over the past three years in anticipation of the program coming available.

There is also money already budgeted to upgrade her computer’s memory. The only thing she didn’t budget for was the scanner.

The software system would also help out in adoptions, which are confidential, and keeping track of child support on guardianship cases, Morton said.

Attorneys would also be available to file documents online pertaining to cases, she said.

The system would also better meet auditor’s recommendations, county Treasurer Karen Robinson said.

Morton said she would get to see the system demonstrated on April 28 during a probate registers’ meeting in Waldo County.

Commissioner Gary McGrane of Jay said one of the commissioners should try to make it to the demonstration before they make a decision.

Advertisement
SHARE