Clerk Candidates Differ On Foreclosure Fees

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The issue of whether a circuit clerk should accept fees to handle foreclosures has surfaced in the Washington County race.

For months Kyle Sylvester, a Republican seeking the seat in the Nov. 6 general election, has said he will not accept the fees and instead will request the money be sent to the Quorum Court general fund. On Wednesday he issued a news release reiterating that position.

His opponent, Democrat Mona Piazza, said the law requires clerks to pay taxes on fees they accept as income. That means a clerk could end up paying taxes on money returned to the county, she said. Such a situation would be unfair to the clerk, Piazza said.

Under state law circuit clerks receive one-tenth of one percent of a foreclosed property’s sale price. That is in addition to the clerk’s annual salary, which in Washington County exceeds $84,000, records show.

The issue resurfaced earlier this month when the Saline County circuit clerk said in a published account he no longer would accept the fees. 

Sylvester said he considers the practice unethical.

“During this time of crisis in our economy, and with so many foreclosures occurring over the last few years, some circuit clerks have received more than $100,000 in addition to their salary,” he said in a prepared statement. “It may be legal, but it’s not right.”

Piazza said she will look further into the issue, including watching what happens when the General Assembly next meets in January.

“If someone wants to introduce legislation, I would not be opposed to a change,” she said.

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