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Records rate hike could bring additional revenue to county. $13 brings Cook closer to fees of major metropolitan counties.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Northwest Indiana Times
by LEAH NYLEN Medill News Service

Getting married has just gotten a little more expensive; so has having a baby and even dying.
 
The Cook County Board of Commissioners amended an ordinance Tuesday that increases fees for copies of vital records. Effective immediately, the County Clerk's office will charge $13 for all birth, death and marriage certificates, an increase of $3 from the previous rate.
 
"This is an opportunity for us to, I think, help those that we provide services for by assessing fees and costs that are reasonable to the public but also help us cover our costs," said Commissioner Mike Quigley, D-Chicago, the sponsor of the ordinance change.
 
The clerk's office maintains the vital records for all births, deaths and marriages that occur within the county each year, but certificates are only provided on request. Last year, the office issued over 755,000 records, about 35,000 of which were marriage certificates.
 
The fee increase also brings the county's rates in line with those of other large metropolitan areas, such as Miami-Dade County in Florida and some suburbs of New York City, which charge between $14 and $22 for records, Quigley said.
 
The fee increase is expected to bring an additional $1.1 million in revenue to the county, said Brandon Neese, the deputy clerk of Cook County.
 
The county's code caps the fee that can be charged for vital records at $15.
 
Neese said the clerk's office asked for the $13 fee to allow room for another rate change if it is needed in the future.
 
Commissioner Gregg Goslin, R-Glenview, who previously advocated increasing fees, encouraged commissioners to consider raising the rates in other departments.
 
"We could be potentially millions of dollar behind in market rate fees charged by our neighboring counties," Goslin said.


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