CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WMBD) — Local county clerks are hoping to stop proposed legislation, House Bill 3878, in its tracks.
The bill would increase the fee collected on all documents filed through the Recorder of Deeds office from $9 to $18.
John Ackerman, Tazewell County Clerk, said the money goes toward the state-mandated Rental Housing Support Program fee.
“It’s a $9 fee that we charge on every document that is filed through the Recorder of Deeds office, any Recorder of Deeds office in the state of Illinois,” Ackerman said.
He said Tazewell County gets over 17,000 documents a year and has given more than $941,697 to the state between 2015 and 2020.
“In return, they were supposed to be sending grants out to throughout the entire state of Illinois to help with Rental Housing Programs,” Ackerman said.
However, he said Tazewell County has not seen a dime of that money and he has heard similar stories from surrounding counties.
“It seems to be a program that is only working in the Chicago Metro Area,” Ackerman said. “Some of it goes to Winnebago County some to Rock Island but they’re small amounts and not nearly the amount that’s being put into this program.”
He also said he has not received a straight answer of where the money is even going, saying much of it is unaccounted for.
“When we’ve asked how that money is being spent, they haven’t been able to explain to us how every dollar has been allocated,” Ackerman said.
Ackerman said he cannot justify an increase to this fee, putting the burden on taxpayers, when surrounding counties are not benefitting from it. He said he is teaming up with local county clerks in a joint effort hoping to stop the bill from passing.
These clerks include: Rachael Parker, Peoria County Clerk, Kathy Michael, McLean County Clerk, Theresa Moore, Logan County Clerk, Scott Erickson, Knox County Clerk, Summer R. Brown, Mason County Clerk, Dawn Kupfer, Woodford County Clerk, Jill Kenyon, Marshall County Clerk, Heather Hollis, Stark County Clerk, and Patrick O’Brian, Fulton County Clerk.
“This is one of the few collaborative efforts we’ve had where every county clerk has signed on to this,” Ackerman said. “I think our goal is to put a spotlight on this and make sure taxpayers know what’s taking place and what the implications of this bill would mean.”
Ackerman said if the bill does pass there would be a proposed Task Force to look at how the money is being spent. He said he’d like local representatives to be included.
“We’d really love to have a downstate individual like Dave Koehler, our local representatives like Sally Turner, and others on that committee so that they can get us some of that revenue and have it come back to Central Illinois.”
He also said, to his knowledge, housing authorities only benefit from this funding and he would like to see that process expanded to help other areas in need.