Lake County recorder candidates address idea of merging office
Republican Bob Bednar is trying to unseat longtime Democratic Lake County Recorder of Deeds Mary Ellen Vanderventer in the November election.
Bednar says it's worth investigating if the recorder can be merged with the Lake County clerk, but Vanderventer disagrees. Vanderventer and Bednar discussed issues in the recorder's campaign in a recent Daily Herald editorial board interview.
Functions of the office include recording of deeds and mortgages, as well as plats of subdivisions, liens, releases, ordinances, annexations and military discharge papers. Documents at the office date to 1844.
Vanderventer, of Waukegan, was elected as recorder in 1996. Bednar is a bus driver from Mundelein who has a background in accounting and certified financial planning.
During the editorial board discussion, Bednar said he hasn't received a study on the potential cost savings from merging the recorder with the clerk, but he contends there would be some through greater efficiency. He cited a similar move downstate as a reason Lake County voters should weigh in on a merger through a referendum question.
"I think we have a responsibility right now as public officials, as guardians of the public trust, to do whatever we can to stretch a dollar. People today are having to do more with less," Bednar said.
But Vanderventer said the sheer volume of the work done by the recorder of deeds office is why its duties can't be taken over by the Lake County clerk. She said only three much smaller, rural Illinois counties have moved to merge the clerk and recorder operations.
For example, she said Tazewell County has about 150,000 residents compared to Lake's roughly 700,000. The staff and duties of the Tazewell recorder of deeds office will be transferred to the county clerk beginning in November.
"I think what is important to realize is there is not one single task in the recorder's office that is duplicated in any other government office," Vanderventer said. "Not one duty, one task, is a duplication. It's a stand-alone (office), and it stands on its own."
She added Bednar should push to have the recorder absorb the county clerk's duties. She said a deed recorded in her office is the start of an information cycle that fans out to other governmental units.
On the issue of technology, Vanderventer said her office has provided a subscription-based, easy-to-use online product for professional firms since 2007. She said electronic deed recordings account for about 20 percent of how that end of the recorder's business is done.
Bednar said the recorder's electronic access can be improved and that, if elected, he'd seek a study on what other counties are doing in that area.