INSIDE:

BIG WINS FOR 2015

  • CCRD now accepts deeds by electronic submission
  • Independent & internal Shakman compliance monitor hired
  • All employees trained on new Policy Manual
  • CCRD tops 170 counties in Fraud Alert signups
  • All important resources translated into Spanish & posted on website
  • Staff worked to reduce FY16 budget by $1.2 million over FY 15
  • The four most active property fraudsters targeted and arrested
  • Massive increase in veterans safeguarding discharge records

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Dear Taxpayer:

Thank you for taking the time to read this Annual Report for my third year in office. As you can see from the list below, 2015 was an important year for CCRD and the goals I’ve laid out for this office. “A Window to Our Past, A Door to Our Future,” refers to our special CCRD History Display we unveiled in 2015. By locating all available photos of past Recorders and putting them on display for the first time, an opportunity to reflect on our past, we gain a clearer vision of our path forward, and why the office of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds matters.

For the first time in the office’s history, we now accept deeds by electronic submission (e-recording). To make this happen, we needed a change in state law to allow for digitally-affixed real estate transfer tax stamps, and a full-scale effort by CCRD and the State of Illinois to integrate CCRD’s records management software with IDOR’s MyDec system. This project represents CCRD’s biggest technological advancement since our records were digitized and placed on the Internet.

CCRD Executive Staff spent a great deal of time in 2015 promoting fiscally-responsible budgeting, allowing us cut costs from FY 2015 to FY 2016 by over $1.2 million (nearly 10%), using new priorities and attrition to avoid employee layoffs that affect customer service. By carefully studying our operational workflows, we’ve been able to maintain and even increase service levels, and are continuously preparing for a surge in recordations that may come from an improved global economy.

One of my top priorities is to rectify and eliminate the hiring and employment practices of the past, which is why I’m fully committed to the federal Shakman oversight structure I inherited. Last year we completed two major goals—hiring an internal and independent employment monitor, and training all employees on a revamped Policy Manual. Both steps will allow CCRD to be released from the costly and administratively-burdensome oversight structure.

Last year we also saw our Property Fraud Unit expand its investigatory reach by adding new staff, including an attorney. This has allowed CCRD to go on the offense and proactively work for the arrest of the most prolific fraudsters. We also saw the first full year of our Military and Veterans Discount Card, and over 4,000 county veterans sign up for this moneysaving program.

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.

Sincerely,

KAREN A. YARBROUGH, Recorder