After hearing from several register of deeds, clerks and those serving as clerk/registers, the Oceana County Board of Commissioners decided Jan. 23 to no longer pursue input on combining the two offices.
The board initially had a Jan. 23 public hearing scheduled to take input on the matter, but canceled it after an error was made in publishing the public notice. It took comments from the other registers and clerks during a public comment portion of the meeting.
“I don’t see the necessity of a public hearing moving forward,” Commissioner Larry Byl said.
Livingston County Register of Deeds Brandon Denby told the board that there has never been a report that showed any cost saving by combining the two offices. Lori Martin, the Clare County Clerk/Register said the her clerk duties take up most of her time and that she wasn’t able to focus on her register of deeds responsibility. She also said that she could provide better service if she could focus on just one office.
Michelle Stevenson, the clerk/register in Roscommon County, said any changes should be done by the voters and not the county board of commissioners. She also highlighted the responsibilities of the county clerk, such as keeping vital record and those of the register of deeds and said they have nothing to do with each other.
Mason County Clerk Cheryl Kelly told the board the duties of the county clerk have changed significantly since she was first appointed to the clerk’s position in 2015. Kelly also said new system to track vital records is in the works along with election changes.
Oceana County Surveyor Randy Hepworth said that he’s a regular user of the register’s office in both his elected position and private business. Most records he’s interested in, Hepworth said, are 100 or more years old and thinks consolidation of the offices would create a loss in productivity.
Commissioner Bob Walker said he thinks combining the offices would create some savings, but at the expense of service it shouldn’t happen.