State’s takeover of UCC administration will cost county thousands

By Liz Verley, Staff Writer

Although thanking Morrison County for its many years of partnership in providing services involving Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) transactions, Mark Ritchie, Minnesota Secretary of State announced the county’s services would no longer be needed effective Dec. 1. UCC transactions are liens against personal property.

Morrison County Auditor Eileen Holtberg told the County Board of this action at Tuesday’s planning meeting.

She said the action would mean an annual loss of approximately $11,000 – $12,000 per year from the Recorder’s revenue. Statewide, the Secretary of State’s office would gain approximately $700,000.

Ritchie wrote, “As we have moved toward a greater reliance on digital/online services, we have been forced to constantly upgrade our security measures to protect our customers. Recent events in the computing world, including very large scale and damaging security breaches in both the public and private sectors, have been cited by members of the legislatures and the legislative auditor as evidence of the need for even greater efforts to secure our computer systems. To be secure, the number of persons with access to our UCC system must be sharply reduced. Ending the satellite office program is the only option for maintaining a secure system.”

Susan Roth, president of Minnesota County Recorder’s Association, (MCRA) following a meeting with county recorders responded to Ritchie’s termination of the contract by requesting to meet with the organization to discuss his decision, to terminate the counties’ contracts.

Roth noted that members of the Recorders Association concluded that counties were not provided an opportunity to discuss the primary concerns identified in his decision to terminate the contracts.

“If counties had been extended an invitation to communicate openly about the decision to terminate our UCC arrangement, we could have contributed toward an amicable resolution. However, such an invitation was not provided,” said Roth.

“Recorders have willingly engaged in this process with the shared goal of assisting in the development of a superior system intended for continued county-state interaction with UCC filing activity. We have invested much toward this project and wish to remain a partner in this process,” Roth said.

District 16 Sen. Garry Dahms and District 16A State Rep. Chris Swedzinski have sent a letter to Ritchie requesting he reverse his decision or give the counties involved the option to continue the UCC filing process that they are currently using.

They wrote, “It is our understanding that this decision was made with very little input, if any, from the affected counties or from MCRA. As legislators, we feel this should have been discussed by or brought before the legislative body. Our rural businesses rely heavily on this ability of the county recorders to handle UCC filings. Removing this service will not only create a considerable loss of revenue for most counties involved, but it also eliminated the prompt face-to-face service currently available to our communities.”

Holtberg will continue to update the commissioners if more information comes in.

The Morrison County Board of Commissioners will meet in regular session Tuesday, July 8, at 9 a.m. in the County Board Room, Morrison County Government Center, Little Falls.