Thursday, June 9, 2011

New Drain Project, Foreclosure Fraud, Efficiencies in Register of Deeds Ofc, Fundraiser Update

The County Commission was back in action this week. We had committee meetings, where we do most of the details of our work (as you know if you are a weekly reader).

In County Services and Finance, we took up a resolution pledging full faith and credit of the count for the bonds for the Kalamink Consolidated Drain Drainage
District Bonds. Drain Commissioner Pat Lindemann discussed the project. Webberville village and LeRoy Twp initiated this. The Drain Commissioner held meetings in the affected communities (2 townships and the village). This is a consolidation of two older drains into one. There are 933 parcels in the district and it is 12 ½ miles long. Drain Commissioner Lindemann told us that with 10,250 acres in the drainage district, individual assessments won’t be that large. The Drain Commissioner will replace a culvert, and will also take out 2 old pipes and put in a spanned bridge for 5 homes (that they will pay for) to relieve water backs up and very flooded driveways. There were over 25 potential bidders at a pre-bid meeting (which tool 2 ½ hours to show what needs to be done and bid on). The project will follow prevailing wage and will have a Project Labor Agreement. They are expecting at least 12 bids. After the County Commission approves this resolution, bids will come in (the bid process opens on Wednesday) then there will be a meeting with residents to talk about cost. The drain will be maintenance free for 20 years or more. The County pledges full faith and credit so that the Drain Commissioner can get a lower credit rating and save money.

A second resolution that passed was to contract with Legal Aide of Central Michigan to take Referrals from the Ingham County Register of Deeds and the Ingham County treasurer for foreclosure fraud cases. As reported in previous County Updates, hundreds of fraudulent foreclosure cases have been discovered by Register of Deeds Curtis Hertel, Jr. He is a statewide leader in rooting out these fraudulent foreclosures. He said that there are over 400 MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems) problematic foreclosures. In fact, all assignments my MERS were recently declared illegal. Hertel is working with County Treasurer Eric Schertzing and they have been doing great work, but there is too much for any one person to do. Legal Aide will be very helpful because they have foreclosure experts and counselors that can supplement what the County is doing. The Register of Deeds and Treasurer are mailing to those individuals that can be found and offering help from legal aide and other resources. We are trying to get these people back into their houses. Not only is this the right thing to do, it will also bring in more money to the county because it keeps people in their homes and keeps the tax base up. Even banks are coming to table to keep people in their homes, and this will help that effort. The only thing that residents can do now is to hire their own attorney. The Register of Deeds is trying to create a 3rd party tribunal in state law, but that hasn't happened yet. The Register of Deeds will also be conducting symposiums across the county soon to address foreclosure, foreclosure fraud, and property fraud. While anyone can get advice from Legal Aide and their are no income restrictions, they are not taking people as clients who can afford their own attorney. If you are in need of advice or assistance, you can contact the Register of Deeds or Legal Aide.

Finally, we considered a resolution to authorize the purchase of a new record management system for the Register of Deeds Office. The current system is not working and we had real problems with the current vendor which just couldn't be bridged. An evaluation committee comprised of staff from the Register of Deeds Office, Purchasing and MIS recommended awarding a contract to Fidlar Acquisition for $555,000 for a new land records management system (which includes five years of support and maintenance). Fidlar has a high degree of knowledge of the various aspects of recording land and vital documents in the State of Michigan – currently 15 other County Register of Deeds clients in Michigan are using Fidlar. In total, Fidlar has 218 county clients throughout 14 states and has been providing technology solutions to Recorder’s offices since 1987. Fidlar has a well-qualified staff consisting of 52 people, 7 of which were added in the past 18 months. Fidlar has agreed to meet all the County’s contractual terms and conditions and procurement policies. Also, MIS will purchase the required computer hardware for the new system from registered County vendors at a not to exceed cost of $25,189. This new contract is expected to bring in about $400,000 additional revenues in next 4 years
to the general fund. The contract will be paid for by the Register of Deeds Automation Fund, and not the General Fund. The contract will be a 4 year contract, and anything new that the company creates we get for free. Register of Deeds Hertel told us that this will improve accuracy and speed of work flow in his office. It will also ensure that the County is complying with state law in dealing with the order in which documents are put on record. It will capture more data on each document to help protect citizens from fraud, and will insure the protection of our online data. Finally, it will allow us to market ourselves against overseas title mills. I commend the Register of Deeds for his proactive work on this to make systems better and more efficient!

For all those following my political campaign, I hope you will join me at my next fundraiser on Monday. You can see the details on my webpage at The campaign has been going really well and the support has been tremendous. I look to keep the momentum going for the next 15 months! Thanks everyone!!!

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