Ax an office
Updated: March 29, 2012 4:02PM
The two Republican candidates for Lake County recorder are campaigning on the premise that if either are elected they will work to eliminate the office. That’s an idea we can get behind.
The last time Lake County abolished a countywide office was in November 1978, when voters overwhelmingly axed the auditor’s office. Its functions were spread to other departments and we certainly haven’t missed that additional county bureaucracy. It will take a referendum to do the same to the recorder’s office, which Lake County Board members could place on the November presidential ballot if they move quickly.
It’s not that we dislike current Recorder of Deeds Mary Ellen Vanderventer. Just the opposite; she has been a fine steward of the office. But we believe the functions of the Recorder’s Office could easily be incorporated into the Lake County Clerk’s Office. Most of Illinois’ 102 counties don’t even have a recorder’s office.
The clerk’s and recorder’s offices are both administrative posts. The clerk maintains birth, marriage and death records and runs elections. The recorder keeps track of property transfers, liens and other documents. Having separate elected offices primarily benefits the county’s political parties who get one more position to slate come Election Day.
As governments struggle to balance their budgets in lean times, the rest of us are asked to sacrifice. Workers get furloughs, benefit cuts and layoffs. The public gets higher taxes, higher fees and service cuts.
Cook County officials have studied combining the same two offices and figured consolidation could save more than $1 million a year. It might not be on the same scale in Lake County, but undoubtedly, there are savings in merging recorder functions into the clerk’s office.
As in 1978, it’s time to consolidate again. Public officials should do all they can to eliminate duplicative services and offices. The recorder’s post is one of them.