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Sheriff wants to add staff to handle rise in Kane foreclosures

The Kane County sheriff may need add personnel handle rise foreclosures county.  File Photo

The Kane County sheriff may need to add personnel to handle the rise in foreclosures in the county. File Photo

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Updated: April 25, 2013 7:02AM

Usually law enforcers call attention to a spike in crime. But on Friday, the Kane County sheriff’s office reported on a need to hire additional personnel to deal with a dramatic increase in home foreclosure sales.

“We are in desperate need of an additional person in our foreclosure division,” Lt. Ron Grommes told members of the County Board Judicial and Public Safety Committee.

The sheriff’s office requested the hiring of an information specialist to keep up with the pace of home foreclosures. Grommes said the number of foreclosure sales increased by 108 percent from 2011 to 2012, and the workload is anticipated to increase when the sheriff’s office is mandated to handle the seizure of vehicles later this year.

Grommes said prior to the recession and mortgage crisis, the sheriff’s office reduced the workforce to cut costs.

“Unless there is a change in regulation, the number of foreclosures will likely continue at the existing level for the next two to three years,” he said.

Grommes said the foreclosure division generated $2.7 million in revenue last year, and it is on track to do $2.3 million to $2.5 million by the end of this year.

Grommes said foreclosure sales are scheduled four months out, and law firms that use the sheriff’s office for the service and pay a $600 fee have been complaining about the delay.

Kane County foreclosure sales have increased from 847 in 2005 to 5,944 in 2012.

The sheriff’s office schedules 100 foreclosure sales per week and with an additional employee it could be increased to 130 sales a week.

Committee Chairman Barbara Wojnicki suggested the position be considered for a 2- to 3-year term. The salary proposed is about $46,000 including benefits.

Kane County Chief Judge Judith Brawka called the committee’s attention to proposed legislation repeatedly being introduced to remove the ability of the trial court to assign the selling officer in foreclosures. She said the additional personnel salary far outweighs the potential loss of revenue in the sheriff’s office if foreclosure sales are handled privately.

Brawka said lenders are claiming the delays, from the date of foreclosure to the date of sale, are the fault of the sheriff’s offices across the state.

“They are using that argument to be able to say that they want to pick their selling officer, go private entirely and take it away from all of the sheriff’s offices in Illinois,” Brawka said.

“Improving the weekly sales by 30 percent will take away from the argument the lenders are claiming is delaying their sales. From a day of judgment to the day of sale is really up to the control of the lender. They are trying to blame it on the sheriff’s offices and that is not true at all,” Brawka said.

Sheriff Pat Perez said if the private sector was allowed to increase substantially the number of home foreclosure sales each week in the county, his office would be overwhelmed by the resulting number of evictions.

“We wouldn’t be able to keep up with the eviction rate – it would be like dropping a bomb on Kane County and it is all driven by greed,” Perez said.

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