The staff of the Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office is being reshuffled in the wake of Drew Reisinger‘s March 1 takeover.
The office is accepting applications to fill four vacancies after losing eight long-time employees. Reisinger, who was elected by Democratic leaders to fulfill the remainder of Otto DeBruhl‘s term after he retired on Jan. 31, said the move is part of the county’s overall efforts to cut costs.
“This isn’t so much up to us,” Reisinger explains. “This is more in [County Manager] Wanda Greene‘s court. Most of this was already in the works prior to the register of deeds election.”
The office had eight employees who were eligible to retire when Reisinger took over; all eight accepted a deal offered to them by the county, he says.
“Wanda offered a package to help encourage those who were capable of retiring, to go ahead and take a package to leave a little bit early,” Reisinger explains. “Most of them were at a point where they were ready to go anyways. They’ve been here for a long time. Most of them are well into their 60s. It’s appropriate. They’re excited about it, it’s a good opportunity for them.”
Greene says that the “reduction in force pay” offered to the employees was equivalent to one week’s salary per year they served, with a maximum of 24 weeks worth of pay.
“Overall, with the reduction of eight positions and adding back four at a lower cost, we will save $273,000 annually,” she explains.
Applicants for the new positions will be considered in an “open review process” and decisions will be made by a board that consists of Reisinger and other register of deeds staffers. In the months ahead, Reisinger says that he hopes the office will be able to increase services despite the overall reduction in workers.
“It will be a challenging transition,” he admits. “But the whole county is tightening its belt and we need to figure out how we can tighten our belt too. My hope is that with bringing in some new technology we might be able to make that work, especially as we’re getting into our busy season with a lot more marriages coming through, and we’re hoping real estate is going to pick up.”
Starting in a couple of weeks, the office plans to allow residents to use credit cards for the first time, he notes. “So we’re moving things forward, trying to make it easier for people; quicker and more efficient as well.”
The office will host a March 30 meet-and-greet for real-estate attorneys and paralegals.
“It’s a way of bringing folks in and letting them know what’s going on, as well as listening to their concerns as well,” Reisinger says.
— Jake Frankel, staff reporter