FARMINGTON — A county commissioner asked the registrar of deeds Tuesday to determine how much it would cost to produce copies of deeds on a compact disc.

Franklin County Registrar of Deeds Susan Black said she charges $1 per page for a hard copy of a deed. If people use the county’s Web site, they may view all documents electronically at no charge, she said, but if they want to print copies, they have to subscribe and pay an annual fee of $150.

On average, that service produces about $42,000 in copy fees each year for the county, Black said.

Commissioner Gary McGrane of Jay brought up a lawsuit that involves Hancock County and MacImage of Maine in Cumberland. The latter private company has challenged that county over the $1.50-per-page fee it charges for an electronic copy of a deed, which is a public document, according to the Bangor Daily News. The company claims that amount is unlawfully excessive, the newspaper reported.

Justice Thomas Warren has not ruled on that portion of MacImage’s suit against Hancock County. But if the court rules in favor of MacImage, it would have repercussions in counties around the state, McGrane said.

The Maine County Commissioners Association recently had a meeting and each county representative was tasked with going back and finding out how much it costs to produce CDs and copies of deeds. That means figuring in costs for computers, maintenance, labor, paper, ink cartridges, CDs and so forth.

He asked Black how she arrived at setting the cost at $1 per page.

Black said the commissioners set that price and she didn’t remember what they used to figure it out. It would take some research to determine the exact cost, Black said.

McGrane said in the MacImage case the judge asked, “How did you come up with the cost?”

“It’s whatever the market will bear,” Commissioner Fred Hardy of New Sharon said. “If people don’t want a copy, they don’t have to buy one.”

McGrane said he would like the county to develop a system for how they develop the cost for copies and doing research.

A lot of people who go to the online deeds site pay the yearly fee and download the documents, Black said. She agreed to work on the development of a schedule of cost. County office staff volunteered to help her.

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