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Cook County Board rejects referendum on closing recorder of deeds office
Commissioners vote 9-8 against putting proposal on ballot

Friday, March 02, 2012
Chicago Tribune
by John Byrne

The Cook County Board on Thursday voted against giving voters the option of doing away with the recorder of deeds office.

The measure to include a referendum on the November ballot asking voters if the recorder's office should be folded into the county clerk's office in 2016 failed to clear the Finance Committee by a 9-8 vote. Committee Chairman John Daley, D-Chicago, cast the deciding vote against the plan.

The bill's sponsor, Commissioner John Fritchey, D-Chicago, said combining the offices would save taxpayers at least $1 million annually. Fritchey said the recorder's office, which is responsible for administering records for Cook County properties, including notices of mortgages, sales and foreclosures, is no longer needed.

But several commissioners expressed skepticism at the amount of money that would be saved.

And state Rep. Karen Yarbrough, D-Maywood, a candidate for recorder, testified that the office is important to safeguard real estate documents.

Noting that Recorder Eugene Moore, whose term expires this year, isn't running for re-election, Fritchey said the political planets are currently aligned to phase out the office. "If we don't do this now, it's never going to get done," Fritchey said.

County Board President Toni Preckwinkle didn't take a public position on the matter but said she believes some kind of consolidation of county real estate functions needs to take place.

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