County clerks oppose doubling of document fees

(The Center Square) – A group of Illinois county clerks is raising questions regarding funding for a rental housing support program.

Fees collected on documents filed through the Recorder of Deeds offices are intended to go toward grants through the Rental Housing Support Program and distributed throughout the state. But a report from the Illinois Housing Authority found 68% goes to the Chicago area and some downstate counties receive little or nothing.

Now there is legislation in Springfield that would double the document fee from $9 to $18.

Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman said the report shows that between 2014-2016, $166,620 of grant revenues was distributed back to central Illinois counties, compared to $2.4 million reported collected during that time by central Illinois clerks for the program.

Cook County on the other hand receives more than double the amount it contributes to the program yearly.

“If I’m going to be charging taxpayers over $300,000 yearly, I need to be getting something back to justify the taxation that I am causing them,” Ackerman said.

Ackerman said there are discrepancies in the IHA report. Sangamon County was reported as collecting on average $30,888 yearly during that time frame when the actual average was $265,779 yearly. He wonders what happened to the missing $230,000 Sangamon County collected for the program.

“It has got inaccuracies in here, massive inaccuracies on the financial end,” Ackerman said. “If you can’t account for all the money you currently have, I find it hard to justify doubling the amount that we are sending you.”

HB 3878 is now in the Senate awaiting approval. All eight of the bill’s cosponsors are from the Chicago area. A request for comment from two of the lawmakers, Delia Ramirez, D-Chicago, and Lakesia Collins, D-Chicago, went unanswered.

Ackerman said he cannot justify an increase in the document fee when surrounding counties are not benefiting from it. He adds he has teamed up with other county clerks in a joint effort to stop the bill from becoming law.

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