People will now have instant, 24/7 access to scores of Butte-Silver Bow records – everything from permits to liens to property sales to deeds – without making a trip to the courthouse.
Information and images from about 200 types of records dating back to 2009 are now on a cloud and for a fee can be viewed online and printed from anywhere. Officials hope to complete three years of data conversion and input this summer so records from 1972 are available.
Butte-Silver Bow became the seventh Montana county Tuesday to offer the data through a computer program and service called iDoc Market.
“You don’t have to wait for the office to open,” said Clerk and Recorder Sally Hollis.
Rob Macioroski, director of the county’s Land Records Department, said the amount of information accessible online now and in the next few months “is almost scary.”
“If an attorney is working late at night and wants to see something, they can just call it up,” he said.
People can search by a variety of ways, including grantee, grantor and parcel numbers. You can also just type in a person’s name and retrieve all documents that include it, Macioroski said.
The available records also include tax liens, declarations on homesteads and trusts, numerous types of deeds, hazardous substances certificates, judgments, mortgages, council resolutions and permits.
Some of the state’s more populous counties with larger staffs, including Missoula County, have the information available on their websites without any service fee, officials said.
The fees for IDoc Market range from $5 for one hour, $15 for 24 hours, $50 for one month or $175 for a whole year. Each option comes with a certain amount of free copies – 20 of them with a monthly pass, for example – with 25 cents per page after that.
The fees can be paid with a credit card and the program keeps a running tally at the top of the screen.
The documents can be viewed for free at the clerk’s or land records offices at the courthouse, officials say, but fees are charged for copies there, also.
Hollis said the county’s previous clerk and recorder, Mary McMahon, got the Council of Commissioners to approve a $49,000 expense for a program that allows documents to be scanned and indexed electronically. Hollis implemented the program shortly after she took office in January 2009.
The council has approved other expenses for equipment, programs and efforts over the past several years that all together total around $200,000. Hollis and Macioroski say the expenses are worth it, not only for the 24/7 public access but for courthouse staff.
“This is a large asset to our office,” Hollis said.
And Hollis notes that if a disaster wipes out county records, many of them will still be available on the cloud.
The other Montana counties offering iDoc Market are Broadwater, Flathead, Jefferson, Park, Ravalli and Sweet Grass.
The program is available online at www.idocmarket.com or links under departments of clerk and recorder or land records at www.co.silverbow.mt.us