CHICAGO (WBBM) — Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey said Monday that the county could save $1 million a year by eliminating the office of the County Recorder of Deeds and folding its duties into the County Clerk’s Office.

“The days of protecting relatives, cronies, political workers on the county payroll have to come to an end,” Fritchey said.

Fritchey said the two offices together have 500 positions and a significant number of them could be eliminated by the consolidation. He said money is being wasted by overlap in the two offices and their computer systems.

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“We can save taxpayer dollars, have less politics in Cook County government and less bureaucracy in Cook County government,” Fritchey said.

Fritchey said he wants the County Board to put a referendum on the November 2012 ballot asking voters to merge the Recorder of Deeds office into the Clerk’s office.

“I think it would be that much more difficult getting them to vote themselves to do away with the office. I’m asking them to trust their constituents and trust the taxpayers,” Fritchey said. “I would hope that my colleagues recognize that their first job isn’t to protect their other hires, but to represent the people that (elected them).”

He said it became clear to him that having a separately elected clerk and recorder is redundant and inefficient.

Cook County Board President Toni Prekwinkle said she’s already working on her own, larger, consolidation plans for county government.

“We’ve divided the county up into five basic areas – one of which is property and taxations. … The treasurer, the recorder, the clerk, the assessor, the board of review,” Preckwinkle said. “Frankly, it’s been one of our most successful collaboratives.”

Preckwinkle said it would be premature for her comment on Fritchey’s idea without having seen the details.

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