How the Recorder of Deeds Office is linked to police body cams i - KMOV.com

How the Recorder of Deeds Office is linked to police body cams in City election

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

On April 4, City of St. Louis voters will be asked if they want to get rid of the Recorder of Deeds Office. Proposition "A" says any money saved would be put in a fund to buy police body cameras.

The Recorder of Deeds Office is where people who live in the City of St. Louis go to get certified copies, marriage certificates, vial records like birth and death certificates, and, of course, land deeds.

"Everything that comes through this office is a legal document and every legal document has to be persevered through perpetuity," said Sharon Quigley Carpenter, an elected official who has been in the office for 37 years. "Our job is you bring in a document today, someone 200 years from now can find it."

Those opposed to the proposition, including Carpenter, point to several issues, including the math that just doesn't add up.

"This office has a budget of $2.8 million. Eighty-eight percent of that is personnel," said Carpenter. She said the 40 people who work in her office would be guaranteed another position within a city government office so the savings isn't really there.

The St. Louis Police Officers Association agrees. According to Jeff Roorda, the association estimate the savings to be $150,000 but the cost of the body camera program to be closer to $5 million.

Roorda calls the ballot initiative "misleading" and is urging voters to vote "no."

Roorda also said the proposition showcases mislaid priorities. If there were extra money, he would rather see it first go to hiring more officers and raising current officers' salaries to retain officers.

Carpenter argues that it isn't legal to get rid of the Recorder of Deeds Office because Missouri state statute 59.010 says there must be a Recorder of Deeds office in each county. The City of St. Louis is its own county.

"They call these offices redundant, but if you live in the City of St. Louis you cannot record your property in the County of St. Louis, nor can anyone who lives in the county record in the City of St. Louis. We are two separate counties," said Carpenter.

One theory is that this measure is the first step toward a city - county merger.

"At which point our jobs go away because no city has this. We are done. We are county officials. We are not city officials. But that hasn’t happened yet," said Carpenter.

If voters approve the proposition anyway, Carpenter said she already has a court date to fight it.

"Because the legislation is so poorly written the damaged people will be the citizens of St. Louis because many things this office does won't be able to be done because they have to be done in the name of a Recorder of Deeds, whether appointed or elected," said Carpenter.

News 4 asked multiple times for an interview with those who petitioned to get the proposition on the ballot, including State Senator Jamilah Nasheed, but they were not available.

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