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posted: 6/23/2012 7:55 AM

Surge in Kane County foreclosures taxing to sheriff's office

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There are 1,627 foreclosed properties in Kane County that are set for sale between July and the end of November. It's such a huge wave of foreclosures that even the Kane County sheriff's office can't handle the paperwork associated with the auctions.

The resulting need to hire more staff or pay out more overtime might cut into the little-discussed financial bonanza the housing bust has created for county government.

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The federal government enacted rules at the end of 2011 that slowed the foreclosure process in hope of keeping more people in their homes. Kane County officials said Friday they haven't seen fewer foreclosures as a result of the new rules, just a more drawn-out legal process. Officials in the sheriff's office still project that the county will take in about $1 million in revenue from the foreclosures this year.

"While it represents a source of revenue, it's not something we're eager to have continue," county board member Mark Davoust said Friday.

But officials aren't necessarily eager to lose what they already expect to get, either. Davoust is the chairman of the committee that will decide if the county should pay more overtime to clerical staff in the sheriff's office or contract out for more help with the foreclosure paperwork.

Contracting out the work would result in losing some of that $1 million. It may also result in a union grievance, but the union contract that covers those clerical employees is currently under negotiation.

Kane County judges have long wanted to create a mandatory mediation program to apply to foreclosure cases. Judges think a forced meeting between borrowers and their lenders might save some homes from foreclosure. Officials are awaiting approval of rules by the Illinois Supreme Court to make the mediations a reality.

In the meantime, local residents can find some help avoiding foreclosure at the Kane County Law Library. The library is free and open to the public. It provides not only access to foreclosure self-help guides but also free legal counsel from local attorneys. To find out more about those services, visit www.kclawlibrary.org.

Kane County Board members said the ongoing foreclosure problem is an issue they'd like to become better informed about as well.

"People who haven't paid their mortgage for two years, I'm not really sorry for them," county board member Mike Kenyon said. "But I know they got there somehow."

Foreclosure: Free legal counsel available to homeowners

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