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County clerk tries to raise revenue with commemorative marriage licenses

The Cook County Clerk's Office is trying a new way to raise revenue by selling commemorative marriage certificates.

If the county board votes to pass the new fees this week, Chicago residents will be able to buy a large-scale, 10"x12" version of their marriage certificate meant for framing or scrapbooking.

"It's a new product entirely that really has a lot of potential....and because our customers are not obligated to buy it...we really think that it'll be very marketable," said Courtney Greve, a spokeswoman for the Clerk's office.

Greve said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle had tasked the Clerk's office with finding new, creative methods of raising revenue. The office was inspired by states like Alaska, Texas, Massachusetts, Ohio, Iowa, and Florida, all of which have programs like this. Surprisingly, Alaska, which has the smallest population of this set of states, actually sells the most commemorative marriage certificates a year, about 2,000. States like Texas and Massachusetts sell about 1,000 and Ohio, Iowa and Florida several hundred.

Cook County reportedly has almost 5 million marriage records. In order to break even on costs, the clerk's office would need to sell 75 to 100 licenses at $65 apiece (the office will have to buy a new printer for the speciality archival linen paper). A basic marriage certificate in the county costs $15.

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