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The Scoop

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Recorder’s office says it no longer needs property tax funding

Statement as issued Thursday by the Allen County Recorder’s Office:

Efficiencies, smaller staff and new revenue streams allow decreased dependence on tax dollars

(July 12, 2012) – The Allen County Recorder’s Office has submitted a budget proposal to County Council that would, if approved, eliminate property tax funding for salaries and operations.

The Recorder’s Office brings in approximately $1.5 million a year in fees, two-thirds of which goes into the county’s general fund and other funds outside the Recorder’s Office. Approximately $560,000 a year is retained by the Recorder’s Office for operations and personnel expenses.

In a June 22 letter to county government departments requesting information in advance of the 2013 budget process, council projected a $4.3 million deficit between expenses and revenue next year. As a result, the Recorder’s Office replied to council’s letter with a proposal that would give up its remaining budgetary support derived from property taxes.

Responses to the County Council letter were due today (Thursday, July 12).

In prior years, the county general fund (supported by property tax dollars) paid for Recorder’s Office personnel while fee revenue paid for projects, such as technology upgrades and digitization of records. As property tax revenue has declined, Recorder’s Office personnel costs have increasingly been paid through fees charged to record documents and obtain copies. Property tax expenditures on the Recorder’s Office have declined from a peak of $489,157 in 2002 to $73,371 in 2012.

Technology implementations that have allowed the office to reduce staff while improving turnaround times have lessened the impact of general fund reductions. Headcount has fallen (through attrition) from 13-1/2 positions in 2007 to 10 permanent positions in 2012. In addition, the Recorder’s Office has been able to bring in additional revenue through the development of remote access services that allow customers to search and record documents online. The bulk of Recorder’s Office business comes from the recording of records pertaining to property development and sales.

“We have offered to give back our general fund support because the Recorder’s Office has reached a point of sustainable self-funding,” said Allen County Recorder John McGauley. “If the real estate market rebound continues, this is a model we could follow indefinitely.”

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