When I had the honor of being sworn in as your Recorder of Deeds in December of 2018, my goal was to run an office that operated at the highest level of economic efficiency while simultaneously utilizing innovation to enhance the service needs of those that live, work and visit Cook County. I have identified and implemented efficiencies and opportunities for cost savings that will benefit the residents of Cook County for years to come:
In my first year as Recorder, we were able to return over $1 million dollars to the taxpayers of Cook County, while saving over 15% from our 2019 budget. We were also able to right size our Special Purpose Funds that were running at a deficit in previous years. In short, we have done more with less while continuing to provide excellent and enthusiastic customer service and managing a more efficient workforce.
I am pleased to report that during my term as Recorder, we were able to accomplish other important feats that have improved service and reduced costs. We successfully implemented the Predictable Fee Ordinance, which allowed for the price of recording a document to be based on the type of document being recorded as opposed to the number of pages contained in the document. The changes brought on by the Predictable Fee Ordinance have made it easier for customers and real estate professionals to determine the cost for recording a document. This innovation reduced the administrative costs of the Recorder of Deeds office, realizing a substantial savings for Cook County taxpayers.
In addition, my tenure as Recorder has brought about a significant change in the maintenance and preservation of our documents. Older records were historically maintained on microfilm that was disintegrating from a chemical reaction known as Vinegar Syndrome. As Recorder, I have removed microfilm that was damaged by Vinegar Syndrome and began to digitize historical records in order to ensure that they will be protected and available in the future.
Despite these successes, the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional challenges that have threatened our very ability to serve our customers and the residents of Cook County. Our goal in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has always been to continue to provide important services while doing what is necessary to protect the health, safety and well-being of our employees, customers and other residents of Cook County. While the office has been closed since March 20, 2020, we have tackled the challenges presented by COVID-19 head on and have found ways to continue providing excellent and enthusiastic customer service while the office has been closed.
For the first time in history, we have been able to e-record and index documents remotely. We are also recording documents submitted to our office via U.S. mail or commercial shipping carriers. By performing these critical services, we have ensured that the real estate and lending markets continue to provide Cook County residents access to capital and the ability to purchase or sell their home. In addition, I am excited to announce that we will begin accepting and recording plats and condo declarations this week.
I want to recognize the tremendous work being done by my dedicated and highly professional staff to ensure that critical services provided by our office continue to be provided throughout the COVID-19. I would also like to thank the residents of Cook County for their patience while we implement new processes designed to keep the real estate industry moving forward during these difficult times.
I look forward to serving you over the coming months as our nation moves to rebuild our lives and our economy. I will strive to do everything I can to make sure our office continues to be an asset for the communities we serve.
Edward M. Moody.
Cook County Recorder of Deeds