Name: Michael T. Costello
Immediate family members: Wife, Marie. Brother, Jerry Costello
Occupation: Recorder of Deeds
Office sought: Recorder of Deeds
Party affiliation: Democrat
Previous elected positions and years served: St. Clair County Board of Review from 1974 to 1984, and St. Clair County Recorder of Deeds from 1984 to present.
Why are you running?: I am running because I understand the value of the documents kept within the confines of the Recorder of Deeds Office. As a homeowner myself, I understand how each document represents a part of someone’s life, be it a couple’s first home, a family farm or a small business. Each document is more than just ink and paper.
Additionally, I understand that the value of these documents extends well beyond the borders of our county and state. For most of us, our home is the most valuable asset we will ever own. That same real estate is one of the most valuable commodities our country has as a whole. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that these documents regarding this personal and national resource are handled in a professional and competent manner.
What is the biggest issue facing St. Clair County, and how should elected officials and county staff approach it?: Weak economic growth in our state affects every citizen and every office in the county. We as a whole are going to need to stay committed to reduced spending. I have always maintained a balanced budget and put more into the general fund that I took out.
What improvements do you want to see in how the recorder's office?: I have always embraced technology as a way to make the Recorders Office more efficient and user friendly. Therefore my plans for the future are to continue to use new and existing technology to better preserve, protect and provide access to the documents contained in my office.
I am currently in the process of expanding the amount of data available online. In the next month or so indexing data back to 1939 as well as subdivision plats back to the 1850s will be available on our websites. Eventually we will have all of the data contained in our office available for online inspection. Additionally, I look forward to being able to provide certified copies online as well as in the near future.
The county has cut back costs in recent years. What would you do to minimize expenditures?: Over spending has never been, nor will it ever be an issue in my office. I have implemented a very efficient means of recording data and therefore require a small staff to do so. Additionally by Electronic Recording, or eRecording, which allows title companies, financial institutions, law firms and other real estate businesses to submit documents for recording online, productivity is increased by eliminating the time it takes to process mail. Furthermore, it allows our customers to have a recorded document in hand moments after submitting it for recording and it saves the county from having to pay postage to return a paper document.
Do you plan to serve the full term of office?: Yes, I plan on serving my full term of office.
Why should people vote for you?: In order to exceed the standards set by my peers, over the past 30 years I have embraced emerging technologies. Under my leadership the Recorder of Deeds Office has evolved from paper and micro-film to electronic recording and digital downloads. I have provided real estate professionals with more effective ways of recording and retrieving data so that they in turn could pass their savings of time and money onto their customers. I provide home owners with copies of their documents free of charge and free fraud protection so they don’t need to worry about their most valuable asset. Furthermore, I remain fiscally conservative, never once exceeding my budget. In fact, through reduced cost, increased productivity and increased revenue, the Recorders Office produces a profit for the tax payers of St. Clair County.