Merging McHenry County recorder's, clerk's offices will be up to voters

McHenry County voters will decide next spring whether to abolish the recorder's office and merge its functions with the clerk's office.

The county board this week passed a resolution to place a binding referendum question on the March primary ballot. If voters approve the measure, county officials would be tasked with consolidating the two offices by Dec. 1, 2020.

The move is a milestone for Recorder Joe Tirio, a Woodstock Republican, who ran for office last year on the platform of eliminating the position. Doing so would allow the combined offices to save money, share technology and resources, streamline staffing and operate more efficiently, he said.

"It goes a long way toward being more fiscally responsible," Tirio said.

The decision to operate the recorder's and clerk's offices separately was made 30 years ago, when all tasks were performed manually, said County Clerk Mary McClellan, a Republican from Holiday Hills. Over the past few years, much of the work has been digitized and automated, she said, reducing the number of staff members and the amount of physical space needed for each department.

If the proposal is approved, the clerk's office would absorb the functions and responsibilities of the recorder's office, which include maintaining and retrieving real estate records, documents and plat maps. Both staffs would then operate under a single elected position.

"If you're looking for guidance as to what is more efficient, then you need to rely on our expertise to tell you what is going to be the best service for McHenry County," McClellan said.

Tirio and McClellan said they've already begun identifying aspects of each office that could be integrated and will work with county officials to develop a consolidation plan.

County board Chairman Jack Franks said merging the two offices would also align with his goal, recently adopted by the full board, to reduce the county's property tax levy by 10 percent next fiscal year.

"Reducing the property tax burden in McHenry County sustainably for years and decades to come will require streamlining government, thinking outside the box and listening to our constituents," Franks said in a statement. "We will have to change how we currently do things, and there can be no sacred cows, so putting this question before voters is a big win for McHenry County taxpayers."

County Clerk Mary McClellan
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