St. Louis will keep its Recorder of Deeds office, voters decided Tuesday. That means the city’s police department will have to find another way to help purchase for body cameras.
The measure, which moves the Recorder of Deeds office’s duties to the city assessor, would have needed to pass with 60 percent or more of the vote because it is considered a “county office.” It received 51.58 percent of the vote.
Supporters of the measure, which included Democrats and GOP financier Rex Sinquefield, said it was necessary in light of a 2016 audit that found Sharon Carpenter, the current recorder of deeds, had inadequate bookkeeping, and appeared to misspend some money.
They also believed it could help the police department help pay for body cameras, which will cost several million dollars.The office’s budget was about $2.8 million annually, with 80 percent of that going toward salaries. But Carpenter said only about $100,000 would have been available for cameras because her staffers would have to be given other city jobs under state law.
Carpenter, who has held the office for 37 years, said she felt her office was targeted because it would make it easier to eventually merge with St. Louis County. She also believed it might be unconstitutional to put two different issues on a ballot measure.
The Recorder of Deeds office retains all official records for land transactions, births, marriage and other things in the city.