In this issue of Beyond the Books we take an in-depth
look at our Recording Division.
As the safe keeper of the county’s public records, our job is to ensure
these documents are preserved in perpetuity and accessible to all members of
The earliest recorded documents date back to 1857 when
this area was known as Slaughter County. In those days, the county seat was
located in Port Madison, near Suquamish. Early settlers to this area didn’t
have access to the advanced digital systems used to record and preserve
documents today. Instead, public records were hand written in oversized
leather-bound books, using elegant cursive. Within these books were marriage
certificates, birth and death records, family histories, real estate
transactions, and meeting minutes dating back to the formation of our county
Many of these volumes exist today and are stored in a
little known area of the Recording Division called
The Vault. The documents stored
in The Vault are a far cry from our modern-day recording system where access
to information is instantaneous.
Today, the majority of recorded documents are related to
real estate transactions such as mortgages, deeds of trust, easements, and
road maintenance agreements. We also record marriage licenses, affidavits
and military discharge papers.
But why is it so important to record real estate transactions? The
importance of these public records was apparent following Hurricane Katrina.
Thousands of Louisiana residents saw their homes demolished with not a stick
of furniture or a family picture to indicate that a home stood on a
particular parcel of land. In a situation like this, public records filed in
the county recording office may be the only proof of ownership.
documents – how it’s done
Documents are received by Recording Division Manager Nancy Lawrence and
staff electronically, via courier, in the mail or in person.
The majority of our recorded documents are produced by five title companies
operating in Kitsap County. A family run title courier service owned by Don
and Kristen Schwartz deliver real estate documents to our office three times
a day. These documents are recorded on the same day they are delivered to
us. At the end of the day, the Schwartz’s and their team return these
documents to the title companies.
Recording Division staff
review these documents to ensure
they meet state formatting requirements. Once the documents have been
reviewed, associated recording fees are collected. A portion of the fees
collected support the
Ending Homelessness program in Kitsap, document preservation, and state
Next, documents are
labeled with the name of the
submitter, Auditor File Number, document type, fee, date and time, page
number, and county of record.
The information on these labels is an integral part of our indexing system
that enables the public to search and locate documents as soon as they are
After documents are labeled, they are
scanned into the recording
system and entered into our database. At this point, documents are
immediately retrievable electronically by Auditor File Number and document
Documents are then
indexed into fields mandated by
state law that are useful when conducting a document search.
These fields include grantor, grantee, property description, tax parcel
number, and excise number.
The final step in the recording process is
verification or quality assurance.
Recording staff review indexed fields to ensure there are no data entry
mistakes. Once the document has been verified, it is searchable by all of
the additional fields.
Summer is the busy season for issuing marriage licenses.
Couples may apply for a
marriage license in-person or by mail. Both parties must sign the
application in front of a deputy auditor or a notary public if the
application is submitted by mail. We
are exploring the potential of online marriage licensing which will require
a change in State law.
There is a three-day waiting period where applicants may not get married.
After the waiting period, the license is valid for 60 days. A marriage
license fee is collected and a portion goes to help fund family support
services, family court, child abuse prevention programs and displaced
homemakers. After the ceremony, the officiant returns the signed marriage
certificate to us.
Public Search Area
The Recording Division maintains an area where individuals may search public
documents dating back to 1857 that are preserved on microfiche, microfilm
and in our database.
We also issues business licenses to antique dealers, exotic dancers, and
legal process servers.
We have come a long way from our early days as Slaughter County. One of our
priorities is to continually streamline and automate the services we
Implemented in 2009, eRecording allows the public to record
documents electronically, eliminating the need to manually
scan, label and index certain information on documents.
Today, more than 20 percent of all recorded documents are
filed using eRecording.
We are implementing a system that will allow internal Kitsap
County departments to record documents electronically.
Combined Indexing System:
This newly launched system eliminates the need to search for
documents using industry terms such as grantor and grantee.
We are in the final testing phases of a system that
digitizes all documents recorded on microfiche and microfilm
from 1977 to 1986.
While we hope to have a system in place in the future that will allow
couples to file their marriage
licenses electronically, we certainly enjoy seeing their happy faces
when they come in to our office!
Get to know the Recording Division. Staff pictures, videos and more are