[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Ghent as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 5-19-2005 by L.L. No. 4-2005]
Editor's Note: This local law superseded former Art. I, Records Access Officer, adopted 5-20-1999.
Records are essential to the administration of local government. They contain the information that keeps government programs functioning. It is the intent of this article that a records management program be established which will assist officials in making decisions, administering programs and providing administrative continuity with past operations. The program is intended to document the delivery of services, show the legal responsibilities of government and protect the legal rights of citizens. It will contain information on taxation and on the management and expenditure of funds. These records will also document the historical development of government itself, the community and the people of the Town.
There shall be a records management program established under the aegis of the Town Clerk and headed by the Records Management Officer. The Town Clerk is designated as the Records Management Officer (RMO) and will be responsible for administering the current and archival public records in storage areas for the Town in accordance with local, state and federal laws and guidelines.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Those official records which have been determined by the RMO and Town Board to have sufficient historical or other value to warrant the continued preservation by the Town.
- Official files, minutes and documents, books, papers, photographs, sound recordings, microforms or any other materials, regardless of physical form of characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or in conjunction with the transaction of official Town business.
- RECORDS CENTER
- A central storage area maintained by the RMO for the storage, servicing, security and processing of records which must be preserved for varying periods of time.
- RECORDS DISPOSITION
- The removal by the Town of Ghent, in accordance with approved records control schedules, of the records no longer necessary for the conduct of business by such agency through removal methods which may include the disposition of temporary records by destruction or donation or the transfer of records by destruction or donation or the transfer of records to a central storage facility for records determined to have historical or other sufficient value warranting continued preservation or the transfer of records from one Town agency to another Town agency.
- RECORDS MANAGEMENT
- The planning, controlling, directing, organizing, training, promotion and other managerial activities involved in records disposition, including records preservation, records disposal and the records center or other storage facilities.
- Making information in records available to any agency for official use or to the public, to the extent that same is authorized pursuant to the provisions of Article VI of the Public Officers Law.
The RMO shall have all the necessary powers to carry out the efficient administration and determination of value, use, preservation, storage and disposition of the public records kept, filed or received by the officers and departments of the Town.
The Records Management Officer shall continually survey and examine public records to recommend their classification so as to determine the most suitable method to be used for maintaining, storing and servicing them under the following guidelines:
Disposition. Records deemed obsolete and unnecessary according to the New York State Records Retention and Disposition Schedule are subject to disposition.
Archival retention. Records containing information with administrative, legal, fiscal, research, historical or educational value which warrants their permanent retention are subject to archival retention.
Active retention. Records not yet subject to disposition according to state law are subject to active retention.
The Records Management Officer shall establish guidelines for proper records management in any department of the Town government in accordance with local, state and federal laws and guidelines.
The Records Management Officer shall report annually to the governing body on the powers and duties herein mentioned, including but not limited to the development and progress of programs to date and planned activities for subsequent years.
The Records Management Officer shall operate a central records management storage facility for storage, processing and servicing of all Town records for all Town departments and agencies.
Additional requirements of the Records Management Officer include but are not limited to:
Development of a comprehensive records management program.
Conduct of an initial survey and analysis of all records, to be followed up annually with a report of records stored.
Encouragement and coordination of the continuous legal destruction of obsolete records through the adoption and use of the State Archive Records Retention and Disposition Schedules.
Development of suitable retention periods for records not covered by the New York State Records Retention and Disposition Schedules. (Subsequently, the RMO must secure approval of such retention periods from the New York State Commissioner of Education and gain adoption from the Town Board of any proposed change before the retention period takes effect.)
Assistance to each department for the establishment of a records management system to support the overall Town records management program and encouragement of the continued efficient management of records within respective departments.
Setting up and overseeing a center for the storage of inactive records.
Maintenance of archival materials which are not official Town records but which have historical value to the community or close relationship to the existing archival collection. This shall be subject to archive space, staff and cost limitations and to the potential endangerment of such materials if they are not collected by the archives.
Coordination of and carrying out or participating in the planning for development of advanced records management systems and equipment.
Preparation of special and annual reports for the Town Board on the records management program progress, cost savings and cost avoidance problems and additional issues.
The Town Board shall act as a Records Advisory Board to work closely with and provide advice to the Records Management Officer. The Town Board shall from time to time provide advice to the Records Management Officer on the development of the Records Management Program and shall also review the performance of the program on an ongoing basis and propose such changes and improvements as the Town Board shall deem necessary or desirable in connection with this matter.
Active records. The originating department has full custody (legal and physical) over records still in active use.
Inactive records. The originating department is the legal custodian of its records and shall retain the power to retrieve and use records deposited in active storage in the records center. The RMO will have physical custody of inactive records and will determine the method and design of storage.
Archival records. Records transferred to or acquired by the archives shall be under the full custody (legal and physical) of the archives, as directed by the RMO, rather than the department which created or held them immediately prior to being transferred to the archives.
Records shall be transferred to the archives upon the recommendation of the RMO, with the approval of the head of the department which had custody of the records and the approval of the Town Board.
Records may be removed (temporarily or permanently) from the archives at the request of the RMO or the head of the department which had custody of the records immediately prior to the transfer of those records to the archives, subject to the approval of the Town Board.
No records shall be destroyed or otherwise disposed of by a department of the Town until it has met the time limit on the New York State Records Retention and Disposition Schedule or unless approved of by the Records Management Officer. No records shall be destroyed or otherwise disposed of by the Records Management Officer without the express written consent of the department head having authority. Following required consents and prior to actual destruction, the RMO will allow the Town Historian to review and/or remove any single document or sampling of documents that are of historic value to the community.
The Town may take steps to recover local government records which have been alienated from proper custody and may, when necessary, institute actions of replevin. (Replevin: the recovery by a person of goods claimed to be his, on his promise to test the matter in court and give the goods up again if defeated.)
Public access to records shall be provided in accordance with Article VI of the Public Officers Law, commonly known as the Freedom of Information Law. The provisions of Chapter 50 of the Code for the Town of Ghent shall apply in connection with any request for public records.
All requests for information shall be in writing, reasonably describing the record requested and made during regular business hours of the Town Clerk's Office.
Within five business days of the receipt of the written request, one of the following will occur:
Any person denied access to a record may appeal within 30 days, in writing, such denial to the Town Board.
The Town Board is hereby designated as the appeal agency for determination of denials and will proceed as follows:
The Town Board shall, within 10 business days of the receipt of an appeal, fully explain, in writing, to the person requesting the record, the reason for further denial or the Town Board shall provide access to the record sought.
The Town Board shall forward to the Committee on Open Government, a copy of such appeal when received by the agency and shall also forward to said Committee the ensuing determination thereon.
A set fee will be charged per photocopy of a record. Such charges will be established by resolution of the Town Board.