HARRISON – During the July regular meeting of the Clare County Board of Commissioners, one motion that passed was to approve the subscription to TextMyGov with an initial term of two years in the amount of $12,000 the first year and $9,000 the second year to be paid from the CPL (Concealed Pistol License) Fund and the Automation Fund.
Lori Mott, clerk/register, explained to commissioners that if someone texts the message “Register to Vote,” “Register of Deeds” or “Court Find” to the phone number provided they would receive a response that provides a link that will take them to the clerk/register’s website or the state website where their answer can be found.
“I can use the Automation Fund or the CPL Fund to pay for this program,” Mott said, noting those are dedicated funds to benefit those departments: CPL and Register of Deeds. Specifically, the Automation Fund is dedicated solely for advancement of technology for the Register of Deeds Office.
“This will help the public,” she said. “We’re living in a different time now, not everyone wants to pick up the phone to call and ask a question.”
Mott said she believed this program will eliminate a lot of the phone traffic to her office, specifically calls about where to register to vote or for online Concealed Pistol License renewal. Additionally, there will be a QR Code which can be scanned for receipt of how-to information. She said the program also has a feature which enables her to out a text.She explained that her department had a system it paid for, but that it is not compatible with the new WebTCS program for courts which enabled sending a text monthly to remind defendants who owed fines, costs and restitution to the circuit court to make their payments.
“We found great benefit of that, and people came in,” she said. “When that text went out, and we had a flood of payments every month. Our system isn’t compatible with that; we’ll be able to do that with TextMyGov – push that text out to remind people to pay their fines.”
Mott said the system could also be used to remind election inspectors of training times.
“We can think of a multitude of reasons that we can use this program in my office,” she said. “And the best part is the General Fund is not being asked to pay for it.
Mott also pointed out the revenue generating aspect of the program, such as when someone texts “how do I find my deed?” and is sent a link to her office’s online search. That has a $6.95 fee for looking it up online, and if printed costs $1 per copy.
Commissioner Rickie Fancon asked about projected labor savings to her office, and Mott said that once it gets going, she expects it could reduce about 10 calls a day, each one averaging 10-15 minutes.
Commissioner Marlene Housler asked when the service would be available to the public, and Mott explained that the company she would be obtaining TextMyGov from has a marketing unit which is included in the fee, and they would help Mott get the information out to the public. She said her plan is to include it on her letterhead, and the QR code on every piece of material that leaves her office, so that anyone who sees that QR code knows what to do with it.
“Take a picture of it, and it takes you to what you’re looking for,” she said. “It’s going to be on everything: my website, social media, everywhere I can possibly think of – and everywhere I can’t think of that TextMyGov will help direct me to.”
Following the vote on TextMyGov, Mott continued with her Clerk’s Report, saying she had been working hard on the nine days of early voting with the Bureau of Elections and Lori Phelps, county administrator. That had included spending a lot of time on planning, researching, making room, designing a voting area. She noted that all 18 voting jurisdictions in the county had signed the contract for participation in the nine days of early voting at the Clare County Building. She also informed that there will be a revision to the former contract, as counties are required to use the state’s contract.
“It does look like the state is going to fund the nine days of early voting,” she said, reiterating that only the nine days of early voting will be conducted at the County when there is a federal or state election – which is required. Mott said her initial thought had been to operate that way for all elections, but that the cost would be too high. She noted that some counties are doing so for all elections.
Property Fraud Alert was then brought up, something available through the Register of Deeds Office.
“Property fraud is always at the top of the fraud ladder in the country,” Mott said. “Our software company offers that within the price of what we pay for our software already. You can sign up for it; all you have to do is call my office and say ‘Hey, sign me up. This is my name, and this is the phone number I want you to send me a text to if someone records a document with my name on it.’”
She said a text or email could be received, or a phone call.
“You can go to our website and sign up for it,” Mott said. “You can call our office and sign up for it. It’s very easy, all it take is a name and a phone number, or a name and an email address. If you call, we can see if you’re already signed up for it.”
The additional benefit is that it doesn’t cost anything to the public or the county, and Mott encourages everyone to sign up for it.
Mott closed out her report by noting that circuit court is busier than ever, nearly every day of the week.
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