Sunday, May 11, 2014
Poised to enact a $15 fee for researching old divorce records through the county courts during the regular April 28 meeting, Berkeley County tabled the item for the next month after a citizen commenter questioned the new fee.
The fee was brought up in committee in April. According to county documents, the fee reflects Clerk of Court staff time researching older divorce records, which occurs daily and can take up to two hours per case.
County documents also say many of the older records are handwritten and not indexed on a computer.
At the beginning of the county council meeting, Republican challenger for the Berkeley County Clerk of Court seat and courtroom veteran Leah Dupree spoke out against what she called a new “tax” on the citizens of the county.
“We are asking our taxpayers to pay more on top of what we are already paying for,” Dupree said. She said it is the Clerk of Court’s job to maintain, keep, and allow public access to the records.
She also expressed concern over what was considered “old.” She said language wasn’t clear if this was all inactive cases or cases from five or even 50 years ago.
Prior to the vote, Councilman Dennis Fish said he could not go through with the Justice and Public Safety committee’s recommendation to enact the fee.
“Are we rushing forward? I’m not sure I have a high comfort level after what (Dupree is) saying,” Fish said.
Council unanimously voted to wait a month before considering the fee.