"But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by...any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward [district], it is a belief against all experience." --Thomas Jefferson

Monday, June 8, 2020

2020 Candidates for County Recorder: Andrea Allen and Brian Voeks

Andrea Allen is the current Deputy Recorder.

Brian Voeks currently works for County Commissioner Bill Lee.

These are notes from the County Recorder debate which included additional candidates--Paul Child and Doug Gifford--who did not advance to the Primary Ballot.

Brian Voeks:
  1. Fiscal Conservatism: worked for Commissionner Bill Lee.  Vitally important to have dept heads who are fiscal conservatives.  Will only ask for budget increases that will result in cost savings.  Try to do my part to not raise taxes again.
  2. Fresh perspective: 50 years since there was an outside person
  3. Qualified leadership: attorney in good standing. 

Andrea Allen:
Worked for the Recorder's office for 27 year. Take on a new role in leadership. Duty is to you.
I know where we can look for improvements, through wise use of current technology.
  1. Maintain accurate records
  2. Ensure user friendly access to those records. 

Paul Child:
You want to serve the most people with the best good. Spent a lifetime (30 years) working in recorders' offices throughout this state and MT. It is a technical position, not administrative.  There's a lot that you need to have knowledge about.  Like your car if it's making noises, will you drive up to the guy in the fancy suit, or would you use the service bay?

Doug Gifford:
Lifelong county resident.  15 years in the recorder's office. Surveying and business management experience. Not satisfied with an office that can't perform its work in the state-required timeline.  We can do better.  UT County needs a recorder's office that is fiscally conservative and provides documents in a timely manner.

Q. What experience best qualifies you? Do you have any experience in reading drafting and understanding deeds?

AA: 27 years in the  office.  Mapping tech: reading and understanding deed, then moves on. I understand state code that we are required to follow.  I know the different types of documents, qualifications if there are subdivisions or condos. 

PC: 29 years working for title companies and then 1 year at the recorder's office. Interpreting docs and researching and finding solutions to problems.  I've seen other county recorders' offices as I've done that.

DG: Vast array of experience related to drafting and understanding deeds.  Background in surveying, experience in multiple CAD systems.  I know what qualifies for property boundaries: not always is it described on the deed.  My business experience and success in managing a team.

BV: Most important thing (SL county recorder) is to manage budgets and people.  I have experience in putting together large budgets and overseeing them.  Managed UT County govt that has over 1000 employees.  I deal with sensitive topics, like legal disputes and personnel issues.  Those at the county will say that I am fair.  Law degree: able to read as well as able to comply with and understand state law.

Q. Top issue facing the recorder's office.

PC: 2 month delay, but a bigger issue is the black hole: the time period between when a document is stamped and the time it is available to search.  Doing better (2 weeks).  But for a while, we were taking a month to do this.  That is a problem for title insurance underwiters.  2 weeks is still 5-6000 documents that no one knows are there for 2 weeks.

DG: Black hole is a big issue. It's part of the entirety of the process with the 2 month delay.  This black hole didn't exist a few years ago.  It's ballooned.  My approach to solving it would be to fix the fractured scheduling of the recording clerks up front. Currently, they have tasks every 1.5 hours, so that doesn't give them enough time to focus on the task at hand and get the necessary work done.

BV: I agree that the black hole is the biggest issue. The office could better use tech.  We only have one e recording vendor in the county.  We'd like to see more of those.  would like to implement a title fraud notification program, in order to prevent title fraud from ruining someone's financial life.  Accepting credit cards, debit cards, and e-checks, similar to other depts in the county.

AA: A backlog of work is an issue.  The 2 month backlog is probably a little inaccurate.  The mappers are working documents from March.  Working to solve that, and we haven't been able to replace people who have left.  We are working on instapayments and is the works.  Doing our best to keep things moving with the growth that has come into the county with existing staff.  

Q. Biggest improvement you could make

DG: Engaging the employees.  Opportunities to be made to increase the productivity.  I don't think we are understaffed and we have the tools to perform our essential function and excel.  I was successful in implementing a process to have targeted goals and reach our 15 day stipulation in state law.  By starting a few months in advance, we were able to make measurable increase within the end of the year.  This is the closest we've ever come to meeting that goal.

BV: I'd like to set the gold standard at the county for customer service.  It's essential that our customers always be greeted by a friendly staff member and work hard to addres their issues.  I've had other reach out to me with clerical errors and trying to get them fix.  I've had people say it was confusing about what they would need to do because someone wasn't there to greet them.

AA: Invested in preserving our duty to the public.  Need to make sure we maintain our services online, continue to be updated and available at no cost.  We would help you if you were in the office, without charging.  Would like to implement tech IF it makes sense, will improve the quality of work, and if it fits in the budget.  We do well in customer service with what we have.

PC: Customer service is superior, excellent.  Might be able to change the focus from data entry accuracy (and that's good).  But the beginning step of data entry would be to focus on just getting a few pieces of information out so that black hole would disappear.  Implement the names of the parties and a brief legal description within a day or two.

Q. Recording fee was recently raised. What is the best use of those funds?

BV: In favor of the fee increase, at the legislature, from $10 to $40.  I believe very strongly in user-fees: those who are using the services are the people who should pay for those services, rather than the taxpayers at large.  If you bought your house 30 years ago, why should you pay as opposed to someone who is flipping properties. Automation and where we can make the office more efficient.

AA: Fees were increased.  The PRIA (assoc) asked for the county recorders to find an agreeable fee.  It helped title companies, and it helped to have us be more efficient in our actual recordings.  It would go toward technology and team building. We were able to fund ourselves and turn $1M back into the general fund budget last year.  

PC: The increase was correct because it wasn't enough to get the job done.  If we do the same number as last year, $2.5 - 3M that will be available for something.  I think the commissioners are excited to use that money.  They have a huge shortfall and that's a possibility to help them.

DG: Good thing.  It updated a policy that hadn't been updated since the 90's and simplified a complicated fee schedule.  Extra funds should go back to the general funds.  With the increase of tax rates and fees, I don't think asking for money at this time is the republican governance that we aspire to.  I would like to see any extra put back to reduce impact on taxpayers.

Q. What is the recorder's relationship with the county commission?

AA: It's a good relationship.  Some commissioners are very involved, and some we see passing in the hallway.  But as we are in meetings together and collaborate, I think we get along well.  I think they have a fair understanding of how our office operates. We're one of the few offices that is funded by our fees and then turn them back to general fund.  I think we have a good working relationship.

PC: Not as familiar with the relationship.  I've been watching the meetings and I don't see a whole lot of interaction. I do notice that Andrea and Jeff are always at those meetings, taking part, when needed.  I would hope that we have a good relationship.  

DG: I think there's a good relationship. good amount of checks and balances.  Appreciate that the commission understands that the recorder's office is an elected position and respect that position.  There is a back and forth when it comes to requests, and that's good.  I was glad that the commission debate knew about the problems in the recorder's office.  I will introduce accountability on our website, so the people of the county can know where we are.

BV: I can say the relationship hasn't been the strongest.  Other offices that have a stronger relationship.  But it's a good working relationship.  I will focus on having a good relationship with all the commissioners, with other offices (assessor/treasurer).  No back-biting. Working together.  Always interact professionally.

Q. How will interact and communicate with the public?

PC: Recorder must be at the office all the time.  The public come in at lunch time, squeeze in by 5. Recorder should be available to them.  I don't disappear, but there for the job.  It's important for the public and the employees, as well.  

DG: The office does a good job of interacting with the public currently.  Opportunities to increase that interaction through enhancements through tech etc.  It would be nice to use a video/visual when discussing with customer.  Website, as previously mentioned.  What are our standards and targets?  

BV: I liked what Paul said that it's important for the recorder to be present, esp true of the elected officials.  I want to be able to meet with people face-to-face.  I believe very strongly that we need to have a presence as elected officials.  Answer emails.  Will show up at party central committee meetings so delegates can interact.  

AA: Want good interaction with public as well.  Good interaction with assessor and treasurer.  Oftentimes, people come to our office and they need to go to one of the others, or vice versa.  I'm a people person.  Been doing PR for a long time.  Generally, we can work out problems, just takes time and education on both parts.

Q. Why are you a Republican?

BV: I've been a lifelong GOP because I believe in conservative values, limited govt.  Main function of govt is to protect our rights (Bill of Rights).  Strong  proponent of having low taxes and having govt really try to be efficient and as much as possible, do more with less.  Not just how I will govern, but how I live in my personal life.  Good personal finances, don't carry consumer debt.  Worked hard to save for the future.  That's how govt should be as well.

DG: I like the GOP ideal of small government.  Govt should function on its essential function and fulfill it and fulfill it well.  I put a standard of 5 days not the state mandated 15 day minimum.  I intend to deliver the GOP standard of excellence into our local government.  By keeping it efficient and the budget down, and do so at a savings to taxpayers.

AA: GOP I believe in protecting rights of property owners.  Do it efficiently and effectively.  It's a critical part of everyday life. Home ownership is one of the biggest investments people make.  We need to be efficient with taxpayer money and it doesn't just come on trees.  But need to provide the essential functions of keeping those property rights protected and available.  It's what boosts the economy and is what we enjoy as citizens.

PC: Believe in the GOP values, esp the Bill of Rights (religious rights, freedom of speech, gun rights)  I believe that GOP believes in liberties and not in large governments that control every aspect of our lives.  We do whatever we can to be fiscally responsible and run our offices efficiently.  That's what I'm about too.


BV: We all have to prove to you that we are the best candidate.  New perspective: selected outsiders in 2018 to run lots of the offices, because a fresh pair of eyes is exactly what is needed in this race.  I'm trained to analyze problems and find solutions.  Govt limited to fulfilling only the most essentail functions.  Run in a fiscally conservative way and with honor and dignity and protecting your property rights.

AA: Protecting property rights.  Family experience in the county.  Love helping people understand their property descriptions and their ownership.  I want that maintained through the best standard possible: technologies.  I don't believe you need to be an outsider to have a fresh outlook.  I'm always looking for ways to improve. Meet with recorders from other counties and others in the industry.  I want to maintain the office's morale.  Doing the best that we can and there's always room for improvement.

PC: I don't believe that Brian is the only outsider.  I've spent most of my career as an outsider, but as a user of the recorder's office.  Done all kinds of things for governments, title insurance companies, investors, all people outside of govt that use the recorder's office are the people I've helped.  now I'm also inside the office and I've onliy been there one year, but that experience has given me a better idea of the processes that are in place to make sure that people like me who did commercial work are getting the best they can get.  I think it's doing a phenomenal job and we have great people.  I'm excited to work with them.

DG: The problems that face the recorder's office demand attention.  We need a leader who is not only experienced, but also one who can deliver results.  My experience in the office, knowledge of managing business, I can deliver on change.  I will fulfill the essential duties in a manner that will cost you less.

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