A referendum proposing that the Winnebago County Clerk and Recorder offices be combined will appear on the March ballot.
The Winnebago County Board voted 14 to 4 last week to put the question on the March primary ballot. County Board Chairman Frank Haney says merging the offices might save the county money over time.
He says the idea hasn’t been controversial, and the board’s priority is to serve residents in the best way at the best possible cost. Generally, the County Clerk handles election responsibilities whereas the County Recorder keeps property ownership records.
Haney says he wants to see county government evolve over time for better efficiency.
“We’ve had a Recorder office and a County Clerk office since before the Model T car came out,” he said.
He has a standard response whenever the subject of combining the offices comes up:
“The joke about county government at times is that, if Abraham Lincoln were still alive, he would still recognize county government because it hasn’t changed much,” Haney said.
Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten says his county considered merging the two offices at one point, but the idea never garnered enough support. He cites a concern that keeping property records would become a less-visible responsibility than election duties for a county as large as theirs.
About three quarters of Illinois counties have combined clerk and recorder offices. McHenry County residents also will have a chance to vote on a similar resolution in March.