Champaign County voters will have the chance to weigh in on reducing the size of government in the April election.
“Be careful what you wish for” is great advice. But when it comes to the future of the recorder of deeds elective office, its abolition is a risk worth taking.
What is the recorder of deeds office? Obviously, it’s the county office that, among other things, records deeds.
Why is it an elective office when it’s so low profile that only those who use it know of its existence? For the best of all reasons: It’s always been that way.
But perhaps for not much longer. A number of counties have voted to abandon the recorder’s office, and Champaign County has a chance to follow suit.
The Champaign County Board recently decided to put the office’s future to a vote in the April consolidated election.
Voters will decide if they wish to continue the status quo or abolish the elective office and transfer its duties to the county clerk’s office.
The News-Gazette has long advocated doing away with this office for two reasons.
It’s a low-profile administrative office that requires administrative expertise to run, not an elected official to oversee. Second, its existence imposes unnecessary costs on taxpayers.
The first issue involving professional leadership won’t be resolved by transferring the recorder’s duties to the county clerk. That’s because the post of county clerk, too, is an elected office that can be filled by whoever gets the most votes, regardless of qualifications.
But eliminating an unnecessary elected office in the name of consolidating sprawling government and reducing costs is nothing to sneeze at.
It’s our hope that voters will agree. If they don’t, well, they’re paying the freight. If they wish to turn their back on an estimated $60,000 savings, so be it.
This is an important election because it has the potential to be about more than just the future of this office.
Perhaps it will set a precedent for rethinking how much county government the public needs, and in what form.
Consider another form of invisible county government — the existence of thousands of township units throughout Illinois. They’re a throwback to the 1880s, but they still exist.
Champaign County alone has 30 townships, and they cost taxpayers a collective fortune in property taxes. How about consolidation — would 10 be enough for the county — or abolition?
Couldn’t township government in Champaign and Urbana easily be transferred to the respective cities?
There’s been a lot of talk about townships in recent years, but little has happened.
Perhaps the vote on the recorder’s office will spark a bigger conversation among those who think it’s time to reduce the size of government by eliminating unnecessary forms of government.