First, let me say that I am humbled and honored to uphold the duties of the Buncombe County Register of Deeds office. It’s been six months since taking over and I am happy to write you, the citizens of Buncombe County, to provide an update on your Register of Deeds office:
1) In these tough budget times, your Buncombe County offices are trimming down and upholding a fiscal responsibility while continuing to provide excellent service. I campaigned on doing everything I could to save taxpayer dollars. My first action as Register of Deeds was to cut my own salary by 40% so we wouldn’t have to cut our staff’s jobs or wages. I believe our workers deserve a living wage with benefits.
2) On top of my own salary cut, we’ve renegotiated contracts and found ways to cut our budget by more than $273,000 annually. Our department made one of the largest cuts in Buncombe County’s budget this year, totaling 15%, without firing anyone.
3) Your Register of Deeds is dedicated to making our data systems more efficient by bringing new technology into our office. For the first time, you can now apply for a marriage license online. Online applications have been a hit! It has reduced processing time in our office by an average of 25 minutes. What used to take 30 minutes or more can now be done in less than 10 minutes. This new system reduces data entry time for our staff which allows them to focus on excellent customer service.
4) In an effort to become the “greenest” Register of Deeds office in North Carolina, our office has implemented a new recycling system, new energy efficient lighting, low VOC paint, installed sustainable carpet and we participated in the “Strive Not to Drive” challenge this year choosing alternative modes of transportation.
5) With the assistance of the best technology team in Buncombe County, we updated our website making it more user-friendly and accessible. And just last week, we launched a new website for Spanish speakers. We are the first Register of Deeds office in North Carolina to offer translation services online, on the phone and in person. Our goal is to serve as many people as we can in Buncombe County.
6) Our Register of Deeds now accepts credit cards making it easier to use our services. Since we have implemented the credit card software, people can now send us an email requesting their information, provide their credit card number and we can process the request and put it in the mail the same day. New technology is allowing us to become more efficient and provide a higher quality of service for our community.
7) Our next goal, at the request of the North Carolina Secretary of State, is to implement “e-recording” or recording deeds and other transactions online. We are currently in contract negotiations and will offer this service in the very near future making us one of the most accessible counties in the state for doing business.
Lastly, I would like to invite you to a celebration. I am proud and honored to host a retirement party for Otto DeBruhl. Please join us in celebrating Otto’s 42 years of dedicated, public service. The celebration will take place in the lobby of the Buncombe County Courthouse at 60 Court Plaza in downtown Asheville. The date is Thursday, Sept. 29 at 5:15 p.m. All are welcome.
It is my pleasure to serve as your Buncombe County Register of Deeds. I look forward to serving you for many years to come.