Long-awaited merger of two Lake County offices happens Thursday

  • Mary Ellen Vanderventer

    Mary Ellen Vanderventer

  • Anthony Vega

    Anthony Vega

 
 
Updated 11/30/2022 8:42 PM

More than two years after Lake County voters called for it, the county's recorder of deeds office will merge with and become a division of the county clerk's office on Thursday.

And if things go to plan, the public won't notice the difference, officials said.

 

Cynthia Pruim-Haran, chief deputy in the recorder's office, will join the office's other nonelected employees in the clerk's office.

"People are not going to see a change right off the bat. We're on the same floor, have the same phone numbers and the same wonderful staff," said Pruim-Haran, a nine-year veteran of the office.

They'll work for what will be called the recording division of the Lake County clerk's office. Those making payments to the old office by check are now asked to make them out to the Lake County Clerk.

Anthony Vega, set to be sworn in as county clerk Thursday morning, said credit for the smooth merger goes to Pruim-Haran and the rest of the recorder's staff.

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Those employees will continue to keep real estate transactions, military discharge papers and other documents, but Pruim-Haran said there will be more cross-training with the clerk's office after the merger. The clerk's office oversees elections and maintains birth, marriage and death records, as well as other documents.

Because all the recorder's office staff is being kept on and aren't moving from their longtime office space on the sixth floor of the county building in Waukegan, the only initial cost savings will be the salary of the outgoing recorder, which was roughly $127,874 in 2020.

Further consolidation between the two offices is possible, but Pruim-Haran said there are no immediate plans.

"We're going to continue doing good deeds for the people of Lake County," she said, using a favorite phrase of Mary Ellen Vanderventer, who was first elected recorder in 1996 and whose last day in office was Wednesday.

In June 2020, the Lake County Board voted 20-0 with one abstention -- Vanderventer's brother, Waukegan Democrat Bill Durkin -- to put the merger question to voters. That fall, voters backed the idea overwhelmingly, with 206,781 in favor and 96,067 opposed.

In her office's final newsletter to the public, Vanderventer thanked the voters for entrusting her with the office and electing her to seven terms.

"It has been my pleasure doing good deeds for you, and I know I am leaving everything in good hands," she wrote.

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