DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The Piscataquis County Registry of Deeds plans an upgrade of its services for Web site customers later this month.
The upgrade, approved by Piscataquis County commissioners Tuesday, will allow customers to view documents for free and pay to print them. It will be the same upgrade piloted in Cumberland County that has received great reviews and an increase in subscribers, according to Linda Smith, Piscataquis County’s register of deeds.
“It will offer a more convenient Web site for the subscribers and the nonsubscribers as well, because they will be able to access the images and the documents and decide what they really need before they need to print,” Smith said Tuesday.
The registry has all documents digitized since 1971 and is working to include the older documents as time and money permit, according to Smith.
The upgrade is included in the county’s contract with Affiliated Computer Services of New York and Texas. Per contract, the county pays $400 a month plus the fees for maintenance and webmaster support, which represents 10 percent of the copy fees collected, according to Smith.
“The real improvement is going to be for the towns,” Smith said Tuesday. She said town employees have had to spend time at the registry doing research, whereas with the upgrade, they will be able to view the indices and the images on the computer and get the information at their fingertips at no charge. Although the county waived the subscription fees for the towns a long time ago, only a few towns used the Web site because they didn’t want to pay to view the documents, she said. Now they can view them for free and get the information they need without even printing.
The upgrade will require an increase in the monthly fees paid by subscribers. The fee will increase from $35 to $50 per month. In exchange, the subscribers will no longer pay 50 cents per name search and 25 cents to view the document, but will pay $1 per page to print. Smith said there are only about 10 subscribers, but she predicts that will increase because the change will make it much more convenient.
The subscription fee increase will assure the registry has the revenue to pay the monthly expenses of the Web site, Smith said. It has been a break-even operation, she added.
Nonsubscribers, who pay no subscription fee, now pay $3 to view the documents and print them for free. In the future, this will be reversed. They will be able to view for free but pay $3 per page to print the documents.
Anyone can still visit the registry office in Dover-Foxcroft, where the documents can be viewed for free. The Web site was not meant to replace what is done in the registry but is an added convenience, Smith said.