For the second year in a row, Recorder of Deeds Karen A. Yarbrough is releasing an annual report to the people of Cook County, highlighting the achievements of the previous year and the challenges that lie ahead. For the second year in a row, the Office maintained a flat budget, fostering a ‘do more with less’ mindset in every section of the Office. We are proud to administer large amounts of revenue for the County with one of the smallest workforces.
2014 was a year of hard work by staff to prepare for a new wave of technological upgrades that will make the office more efficient and prepared for the industry movement from paper to electronic recording. It was also a year of reaching out to the community to educate and help them respond to the possibility of property fraud. 2014 also saw CCRD’s commitment to veterans expand through the new Cook County Military and Veterans Discount Program.
Below you can read the Annual Report in Fullscreen. Below the document module you can read the Recorder’s introductory letter.
Thank you for taking the time to read this Annual Report for my second year in office. It is in the spirit of openness and transparency that I share with you the accomplishments of our office for 2014.
If there is a theme for 2014 and our work ahead in 2015, it is “Investing in the Future.” My staff has spent many hours laying the groundwork for a new software and hardware system that will make recordation more accurate and efficient, and there will be many more hours of work on this in 2015. We also pushed for legislative changes that will allow us to electronically record conveyance documents like deeds for the first time ever.
For a land records office, what we are preparing for is an economic recovery. When people’s lives improve, they reach for the American Dream of home ownership. When more people buy homes or refinance, our workload increases. Because our current recording software system is over ten years old—a lifetime when it comes to technology– we must move forward now to better position our office to handle the increase in work that will come with a recovery.
In our day-to-day operations we are committed to accuracy and efficiency, but as public servants, we must also be committed to advocacy. In my first year in office I changed ineffective laws to make them tougher against those who try to use this office to steal property through fraudulent documents. Through our “Review and Refer” process-an expedited judicial review that can invalidate clearly fraudulent documents, we have achieved justice for homeowners and helped hand down over $20,000 in fines against fraudsters. In the year ahead, we will see a shift from defense to offense, and will convene a task force to put the worst fraudsters in jail where they belong.
In 2014 we strengthened our commitment to veterans by launching the Military and Veterans Discount card. Though it was launched in mid November, we quickly signed up over 400 veterans in 2014 and recruited over 150 businesses across the County to offer them discounts.
As I’ve said before, I want to be the chief advocate for property owners in Cook County. The owners of downtown skyscrapers have teams of lawyers fighting for them, but I remain focused on helping the average homeowner. If I can ever be of service to you or your family, please don’t hesitate to contact me.