If one-stop shopping was the goal, then Allegheny County has achieved what it set out to accomplish with the notary commission process.
Effective Sept. 1, the county reorganized its processing of notary commissions by consolidating the entire process into one office instead of three and requiring notaries getting sworn in to bring one $60 check instead of three separate checks for various amounts. Since Sept. 1, was Labor Day and the county officers were closed, the program actually began on Sept. 2.
Mike Salaj, a Systems Administrator for PAN, saw first-hand how swiftly the new process works when he walked from the PAN offices in One Gateway Center to the Allegheny Department of Real Estate office in Room 101 of the County Office Building at 542 Forbes Ave, at 11:40 a.m. on Sept. 2 to get reappointed as a notary.
Salaj waited in line for a couple of minutes, took his oath in front of the clerk, signed his oath, filled out his registration of signature card, signed his commission, handed over his $60 check and was handed a receipt. He walked out of the office and back onto Forbes Avenue in seven minutes.
“As a Systems Analyst when I went through the process the first time four years ago, I thought the whole process could have been made simpler and easier,” Salaj said. “Now you only need one check. You only go to one office. The county has made it easier and you can complete the whole process really quickly instead of it taking 15 minutes or more.”
To get appointed or reappointed in Allegheny County in the past, notary applicants had to visit the recorder of deeds office and hand over a $38 check. This was followed by a trip across the street to the prothonotary’s office to register the notary’s signature and another $5 check was needed. The process was completed when the notary registered his or her signature with the clerk of courts and paid another $15 fee.
“The streamlining of notary processing is another positive result of row office consolidation,” said Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato. “A single location for processing will provide greater convenience and a more efficient process for notaries.”
In May 2005, Allegheny County voters approved the consolidation of six elected row offices including coroner, jury commission, prothonotary, clerk of courts, register of will and recorder of deeds. On Jan. 1, 2006, the elected county coroner became an appointed medical examiner and the jury commission responsibilities were assumed by the county courts. On Jan. 1, 2008 the department of court records combined the offices of prothonotary, clerk of courts, register of wills, and the real estate division replaced the recorder of deeds office.