By AUTUMN HUGHES
A discussion about using a school building to store county government records shifted to talks of digitizing records and requiring less storage space.The Bradley County Building & Land Committee …
A discussion about using a school building to store county government records shifted to talks of digitizing records and requiring less storage space.
The Bradley County Building & Land Committee met Tuesday morning to discuss the Lake Forest Middle School buildings designated for archives. One of the three buildings has already been designated for use by the Bradley County Sheriff's Office.
"We have to consider the heating and air, and how to secure the buildings," Bradley County Commission Chairman Louie Alford said.
Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said he has been looking to get the archives digitized rather than moving files to one of the buildings. He said if the county can get every department to digitize its records it would help take care of space issues. To accomplish that, they would need to develop a policy regarding digitizing records.
Committee Chairman Charlotte Peak said by digitizing the records, the county could conceivably give all three buildings to the Sheriff's Office for records storage.
Commissioner Milan Blake asked if the archives would be for documents only, or if there would be other items stored there. Commissioner Jeff Yarber said the Sheriff's Office has an evidence room for storage of items.
Davis said funds from the county's archive fee could be used to pay for digitization of records and a system to review them. He suggested the commissioners may want to ask Bradley County Attorney Crystal Freiberg to look into the process to address the records storage needs of all county departments. Later in the meeting committee members approved a motion to that effect.
Yarber asked if the archives fee was originally intended to pay for upkeep and maintenance of an archives building. He said if they use that funding for digitizing records they will have to look at another way to raise money to maintain the building. Yarber said he is not prepared to support implementing any more fees.
"We do need to get the buildings maintainable," Peak said, noting each will need to be secured and outfitted with separate heat and air systems and utility meters.
Blake asked if the whole idea of this plan is to discontinue records storage at Waterville Elementary School. Alford said it is. He also recommended checking with county government department heads to see who wants to store records in the archives.
Davis said if they can shorten the length of time they have to keep records and also begin to preserve them in a digital format, that will cut down on the storage needs.
Noting those future plans, Peak said there are three buildings they need to make a decision on to include heat and air units, separate meters, fencing and locks to secure the buildings, and to address slope and drainage issues.
"Sooner or later we'll need them for something," Alford said of the buildings.
Davis said it is fine for the county to keep buildings for archives, but they have to be maintained.
Alford recommended another meeting for further discussion. He also suggested seeing how much money is in the archives fee and that Lorri Moultrie, the Bradley County Commission's executive administrative assistant, could contact each department head to see who needs storage space.
"I'll get you the balance in that (archives) fund," Davis said.
Davis said he anticipates savings once the county establishes a records digitization policy and begins following it.
Alford agreed there is a need to digitize records "but it's not going to be a quick fix," nor is it likely to be cheap, he added.
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