Pegasusnews.com out of Dallas is reporting that Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins plans to file a lawsuit against MERS for what is believed to be millions of dollars owed to the county for unfiled fees. Watkins says that every time a mortgage in Dallas County changed hands, lenders should have recorded the transaction with the county clerk, which would have generated a fee. By MERS “holding” mortgages as they were passed around from investor to investor, they were rarely recorded, which deprived the county of millions of dollars in revenue.
County officials have estimated the uncollected fees between $50 million to $100 million. “Counties are suffering financially,” District Attorney Watkins said, “If the fees were paid, they would not have to [struggle].” The district attorney says he felt this lawsuit was necessary to protect the interests of Dallas County citizens. “It’s because of the nefarious activities of some of these entities that the county has been harmed,” he adds.
As a Dallas County attorney and resident myself who has seen the county’s budget woes first hand (the Dallas County courts are, after all, paid for by Dallas County revenues), I understand the District Attorney’s position of needing to sue MERS. And as one who had to pay filing fees for my own house, I appreciate the seeming lack of fairness as to who shoulders these costs. Now, I’m not a big fan of excessive government fees and taxes, but I also understand the need for paying a reasonable fee for legitimate government services. Homeowners must pay to record their deeds, but Wall Street investors don’t have to? Doesn’t quite seem fair, does it?
Good luck to Dallas County in their lawsuit against MERS. And if/when the county recovers, please fix the potholes on my street!