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Hall County proposes merging two county offices
It's an issue voters in Hall County are facing as they head to the polls: to consolidate two of the county offices into one or keep two separate departments.
As News 5 continues our Decision 2012 coverage, it's a simple question that could merge the Register of deeds office and the Assessor's office.
"It's a proposal that could save the county thousands of dollars a year. It's a simple yes or no question on this year's ballot in Hall County, but it's a decision years in the making.
"We went ahead and continued to study it and decided this would be the time if we were going to put it on the ballot," said Pam Lancaster, Hall County Board of Supervisors.
It's a proposal that would merge the Register of Deeds Office and the Assessor's Office.
"This is one of the issues that could take place that the public really wouldn't notice a difference in services," said Lancaster.
By merging the two offices, one elected official would not be replaced. The county would be saving that $54,000 salary, but current register of deeds Mitch Clark, says money would still need to be spent to hire additional staff.
"If you pay an elected official $10,000, their deputies make 75 percent, so if you have a deputy there, you're going to have to have deputy here still, you have to have supervision, that's a $25,000 increase right there and you got rid of a $54,000 job," said Mitch Clark, Hall County Register of Deeds.
Hall County is one of only 17 counties in the state that has a stand-alone Register of Deeds Office. Lancaster County voted in 2003 to merge its Assessor and Register of Deeds Office into one.
Clark says that merge is actually costing the county more money.
"I've seen the statistics, I've seen facts and it shows they increased their costs 30-some percent now, the first year alone they increased their cost over 20-percent and it's all due to paying people more money," said Clark
The Register of Deeds Office averages 10,000 deeds a year. It was also recently recognized for its work in making deeds going back to the 1800's available online.
A simple question is big emotions.
"Vote no to the merge because there is no efficiency gain, there's no cost savings and there was never a plan in place at this county and it's just a bad idea," said Clark.
"We've really tried to think of every angle, we believe this is the best thing to do and so now it's up to the taxpayer, they're going to have to decide and we'll abide by their decision," said Lancaster.
If approved by voters on Tuesday the assessor's office and the deeds office will be combined in approximately two years when both terms of the assessor and the Register of Deeds comes to an end.
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