WOODSTOCK – McHenry County voters will decide in March whether to keep or consolidate the office of recorder of deeds.
County Board members voted Tuesday evening to put a binding referendum to voters in the 2018 primary. The board approved the question without any debate as part of its routine consent agenda.
If voters approve the referendum, the office will be merged with the county clerk and will cease to exist on Dec. 1, 2020.
Republican Recorder Joe Tirio, who was elected last year on a platform of eliminating the office, hailed the board’s vote.
“If the people choose to integrate the two offices, it will be a historic decision, an observable expression of McHenry County government’s commitment to better government and a demonstration of how government can redefine itself to meet the changing needs of its citizens,” Tirio said.
The consolidation referendum was presented to the board and moved along by Republican County Clerk Mary McClellan and Democratic County Board Chairman Jack Franks.
Both called the vote to put the referendum on the ballot a win for taxpayers.
The recorder’s office, which has 3.4 million documents on file, is responsible for recording, retrieving and maintaining land records and real estate transactions, subdivision plans, military discharge papers and other records.
Most of the state’s 102 counties have a combined clerk and recorder’s office because state law requires a county to have at least 60,000 people to separate them. But with the advance of scanning and computer storage technology, several of the handful of counties with separate offices have consolidated them as a cost-cutting measure.
Voters in four counties since 2011 – Tazewell, McLean, Peoria and Cook – have chosen to consolidate their recorders’ offices.