Plan to shrink Lake County government headed to voters this fall

  • Mary Ellen Vanderventer

    Mary Ellen Vanderventer

 
 
Updated 6/9/2020 7:00 PM

Lake County residents will have the rare opportunity to reduce the size of local government when they vote this fall.

The county board on Tuesday agreed to ask voters if the office of recorder of deeds should be eliminated and its duties absorbed by the county clerk's office.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

If voters approve the proposal Nov. 3, the offices would merge by Dec. 1, 2022. The elected position of recorder would disappear.

The current recorder, Waukegan Democrat Mary Ellen Vanderventer, supports the merger.

The recorder's office keeps real estate transactions, military discharge papers and other documents. The clerk's office oversees elections and maintains birth, marriage and death records, as well as other documents.

Most of Illinois' 102 counties have one office handling all those duties, however.

Proponents of merging the offices say it could save money. The recorder's $127,874 annual salary would be eliminated, as would the cost of the recorder's health insurance coverage and other benefits.

There was little discussion of the proposal Tuesday before the board approved adding the question to the ballot. Although pleased with the potential cost savings, Lincolnshire Republican Ann Maine said improved service also should be a goal of any office consolidations.

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When it came time to vote, Waukegan Democrat Bill Durkin abstained. Vanderventer is his sister. The 20 other board members supported the proposal.

The meeting was held remotely because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Lake County voters aren't the first in the Chicago area to be asked to consider a merger.

Cook County voters voted in 2016 to merge the offices, and that move is supposed to be completed by this December. McHenry County voters took the same step in 2018. DuPage County voters will decide the issue for their county in November.

Even though she supports the merger, Vanderventer is seeking reelection in November. She'll face Deerfield Republican Emilia Czyszczon. Czyszczon wants the offices to merge, too.

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