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Four things to know about the recorder referendum

If you live in Champaign County, your ballot for the April 6th consolidated election will include a referendum question regarding the elimination of the Office of the Recorder. Here is what the language looks like:

Shall the Office of the Recorder of Champaign County be eliminated and all duties and responsibilities of the Office of the Recorder of Deeds be transferred to the Office of the County Clerk of Champaign County on December 31, 2021?

In the 2020 election, Mike Ingram challenged incumbent Recorder of Deeds Mark Shelden, and campaigned on eliminating the office with the aim of saving the county thousands of dollars. Now, voters have the opportunity to seal the deal. 

Here are four things to know about this referendum:

The Office of the Recorder is responsible for keeping records.

That seems logical, yes? The most common records they handle are land related transactions: “Conveyance deeds, mortgages, releases and assignments, property liens, as well as assorted federal and local liens. The Recorder’s office is responsible for the recordation and storage of plats of subdivisions, land surveys and monument records.”

The office also handles foreign birth and marriage records, and some military related records.

If we vote to eliminate the position of Recorder, those responsibilities will fall under the Champaign County Clerk, and the current staff from the Recorder’s office would perform those duties.

Currently, the Champaign County Clerk’s office deals with other vital records: Marriages, births, deaths, civil unions. The Chief Deputy Recorder and other staff members would continue to perform their duties, just under the supervision of the County Clerk. That means Ingram would be losing his job, but no one else will have to. Ingram hopes it will also lead to some cross training for his staff as well as the staff in the clerk’s office. 

Champaign County is one of only 12 Illinois counties that still has Recorder of Deeds as an elected position.

The most recent county to eliminate the position is Winnebago County. Winnebago, along with 11 other counties that have a population over 60,000, have folded the responsibilities into their respective county clerk’s offices. Cook County is one of those.

If the referendum passes, the position will be dissolved by the end of 2021.

When Ingram was elected, he’d initially taking a year to eliminate the position. However, once the county board voted to include the referendum on the ballot this spring, the Republicans on the board, none of which voted for the referendum, pushed to have it gone by May. The compromise was December 31st. 

If the measure passes, Ingram will then draw up a proposal stating he will not draw a salary (which is just upwards of $90,000 a year) for the remainder of his term, which ends in 2024. 

Early voting and vote by mail has begun for the April 6th election. You can request your mail in ballot through April 1st. Find early voting and election day polling locations and hours, see your sample ballot, and find out how to register to vote at the Champaign County Clerk’s website.

Top image from Champaign County Recorder of Deeds Facebook page.

Staff writer

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