Butler County Clerk of Courts reopening title office in the northern part of county

Will open in Monroe in June

After nearly two years ofButler County residents in the northern part of the county travelling far for vehicle titles and passports, Clerk of Courts Mary Swain is opening a new title office in Monroe.

The county commissioners recently approved a $163,200 five-year lease for a store front in the Kroger plaza on Ohio 63 in Monroe for a new vehicle title office. The office is scheduled to open by early June.

Swain had an office in Middletown for years and was hoping to relocate the Middletown office to another location in that area of the county when the current lease expired in July 2020. Then the pandemic descended, and after the county commissioners ordered 7.4% budget cuts over two years, she abandoned the plan.

“It was an obvious decision not to relocate, based upon changing economic outlooks, and facing the current lease’s expiration date necessitated the decision not to renew,” Swain said two years ago. “When economic indicators forecast a better situation, we will reassess the option of opening a fourth office in the Middletown/Monroe area. For now, we have made the best business decision for the county budget and for county taxpayers.”

The county’s healthy finances have not waned during the pandemic, and neither have Swain’s. She routinely turns about $1 million in excess title fees to the general fund, in 2020 she transferred $1.75 million, last year the transfer was $1.25 million and this year she budgeted a $1.5 million return.

Swain said most of their revenues come from dealership title fees and because her office is so respected, they get the business.

“We did a survey of our dealers and we received an overall 99% highly satisfied rate,” Swain said.

She said she wanted to reopen the northern office for “customer convenience” because it is a hike to get to the other three offices in Fairfield, Hamilton and West Chester Twp. where vehicle titles and passports can be obtained.

The Fairfield and West Chester title offices are the busiest, generating about 9,000 titles per month, the old Middletown location issued 3,455 and Hamilton issued 2,581 in November.

Also in the name of convenience, three years ago Swain moved her title office out of the Government Services Center to a new location on the west side of Hamilton. The GSC location was closed on Saturdays and people had to pay to park.

The new office space used to house a veterinarian practice, so alterations are necessary. Chief Deputy Clerk Joe Statzer said they will also need to hire three or four new staffers for the location. Swain usually likes to locate her title offices near the state’s BMV operations because drivers usually need both services, but there is no state vehicle registration office in Monroe.

“We are hoping to be granted a Limited Authority Deputy Registrar approval for our new Monroe Title Office,” Statzer said. “Which would allow our office some ability to help customers with out-of-state inspections and first-time vehicle registrations.”

In addition to online vehicle registration at the BMV, drivers may now also renew their car registrations at kiosks like the one at the Fairfield Meijer store. Swain said the state is also supposed to be rolling out a portal so “casual sales” title transfers between private owners can be done without going to a clerk’s office.

Swain said she is not anticipating a big hit to her bottom line because the majority of their work is with car dealers who still must use the clerk’s office. Statzer said he believes it will still be best for people to use their office, not an online state tool.

“People can get on those portals and still have 100 questions,” he said. “It’s best sometimes to just come in and take care of it.”

The state could not be reached for comment on how the new portal will work or when it will be launched.

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