Maricopa County officially launched the first of what it expects to be several electronic kiosks allowing residents to publicly record documents without driving to downtown Phoenix.
The county unveiled the machine Wednesday at its Northwest Regional Library in Surprise. It was a ceremonial launch, since the kiosk had been running since the beginning of this month and had racked up more than 25 recordings.
The decentralized kiosks in Maricopa County are the nation's first, County Recorder Helen Purcell said. The Surprise kiosk is the county's second, however, the first being in the recorder's downtown Phoenix office. The downtown kiosk functions partly as a demonstration, Purcell said.
County officials consider it an important customer service to place self-service, interactive document recorders in satellite locations throughout the community. Purcell said it had long been suggested by customers.
"It's a convenience, and we've had lots of complaints over the years because we haven't had any outlying locations," she said.
The recorder also has an office in Mesa.
The kiosk includes a camera and voice box connecting the user to a downtown staffer who can answer questions. It has a touch-screen monitor, a scanner and a printer that cranks out officially recorded documents. Payment is by credit card.
Purcell said the office was considering another kiosk in Scottsdale or Fountain Hills. Queen Creek and Anthem also are on the list. She said it was easier to install units in locations where the county has libraries, so the kiosks can plug into the county computer network.
Purcell said it could be more complicated, and potentially expensive, to put the machines in libraries outside county jurisdiction. But the county is working on it, and does not see that as a deal breaker. The kiosks cost about $8,000 each, paid for from surcharge fees paid as part of the cost of recording a document.
"So they're actually paid for by the people that record documents," Purcell said. "It's kind of a service back to them."
Customers can use the kiosks to record a variety of documents such as real-estate ownership papers or liens. Purcell said the kiosks may one day be used to register voters, with installation of a signature pad.
"It's going to have to be a learning process for us," she said. "We're going to have to see what community we are serving. What we're looking at first is location: How do we get the best bang for our buck by putting them in some outlying areas where we have no presence?"
Theodore Trautmann of Sun City stopped at the library Wednesday to record a change in his real-estate deed and ended up with an audience of officials and media who were winding up the unveiling ceremony. Though he is not a computer expert, Trautmann did not have a problem recording the change - with help from the staffer on the other end of the camera.
"I was thinking I needed to go downtown to the (recorder's) office," he said. "I was trying to figure out an easier way."
Mary Melby, regional branch manager of the library, said the kiosk had not been disruptive, though some have not yet adjusted to the fact they don't have to speak loudly for the staffer to hear. She was impressed by the number of people who had used the kiosk. "I'm just astounded," she said. "It just appeared and people already are using it."
Maricopa County unveils kiosk to record public documents