Endorsement: Yes to merge recorder, clerk in Cook

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 10/21/2016 9:50 AM

There's a reason that efforts to merge the duties of county recorder and county clerk are gathering steam throughout the Chicago region.

It's a good idea, though so far, only Cook County has mustered the will to put a proposal before voters. Kane County officials briefly flirted with the idea this spring but failed to put it on the ballot. It's an issue for candidates for recorder in each of the DuPage, Lake and McHenry county races.

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It's a natural target for consolidation. Not that the duties of the clerk's office -- which primarily focuses on elections and managing diverse personal records -- and the recorder's office -- whose dominant duties focus on records of real estate transactions -- precisely overlap. But the two offices are linked by the function of handling public records, and there are natural opportunities to save money by consolidating management of the various documents.

In Cook County, supporters estimate the savings could be $1 million a year. That's not an eye-popping figure in a county budget of nearly $3.5 billion, and it shouldn't overshadow the $2.2 million that Recorder Karen Yarbrough says she's already saved through various efficiencies.

But it's nothing to sneer at, either. We all know that old saying in government "a million here, a million there, pretty soon you're talking about some real money." That applies in savings, too, savings that a sharp manager like Yarbrough could continue to produce in a less-political setting.

Consolidation is an important notion in a state with nearly 7,000 units of government. Cook County voters have an opportunity Nov. 8 to take a step in that direction. They should take it -- and other counties should consider following close behind.

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