[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Bethel as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Article I Records Management
Article II Public Access
[Adopted 7-12-1993 by L.L. No. 1-1993]
It is the intent of this article to initiate, coordinate and promote a systematic records management program from establishment to final disposition of records for the proper documentation of the historical development of Town government, the community and the people of the Town of Bethel. This article is intended to implement the Local Government Records Law, as the same may be modified or amended, and found in Article 57-A of the Arts and Cultural Affairs Law, together with the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education (Part 185, 8 NYCRR) promulgated pursuant thereto.
There shall be a records management program established under the direction of the Town Clerk of the Town of Bethel, designated as the records management officer (RMO). The RMO will be responsible for administering the noncurrent and archival public records and storage areas for the Town of Bethel in accordance with local, state and federal laws and guidelines. The RMO may appoint a designee to carry out the specific duties as outlined in § 62-3.
The RMO shall have all the necessary powers to carry out the efficient administration, determination of value, use preservation, storage and disposition of the noncurrent and archival public records kept, filed or received by the offices and departments of the Town of Bethel. The RMO shall:
Continually survey and examine public records to recommend their classification so as to determine the most suitable methods to be used for the maintaining, storing and servicing of archival material:
Establish guidelines for proper records management in all departments of the Town of Bethel in accordance with local, state and federal laws and guidelines.
Report annually to the Town of Bethel Town Board on the operation and maintenance of the records management program.
Maintain and operate a records management center for all noncurrent and archival records for all Town of Bethel departments.
Establish Town of Bethel archives and perform the following functions:
Advise and assist all departments in reviewing and selecting material for preservation.
Continually review records for suitable methods to be used for maintaining and servicing of archival materials.
Establish and maintain an adequate records management center.
Promulgate rules governing public access to and use of records in the archives.
Collect archival materials which are not official Town records but which have associational value to the Town or a close relationship to the existing archival collection.
Develop a confidentiality policy for archival records designated confidential, provided that it does not conflict with state and federal laws.
Develop a procedure whereby historically important records are to be identified at the point of generation.
Provide information services to other Town of Bethel offices.
Each Town department is the legal custodian in the creation of its records and shall retain custody until transferred to the archives or disposed of. Records transferred as archival records shall be under the control of the archives rather than the department creating the record. Records subject to disposition according to state and federal law shall be recommended by the RMO with the approval of the department head from which records originated.
Records of archival value shall be transferred to the archives upon the recommendation of the RMO and approval of the department head having custody of records.
Records may be permanently removed from the archives at the request of the RMO or department head originally creating records in his custody prior to transfer as archival records.
The Town may take steps through legal action to recover any local government records which have been removed from proper custody and may, when necessary, institute actions of replevin.
No records shall be destroyed or otherwise disposed of by any department of the Town until it has met the retention limit in accordance with the designated local, state or federal records retention and disposition schedule and unless approved by the RMO.
Any person engaged in the service of the Town terminating his official duties and having possession of Town records, books and any other materials associated with his office, being official property of the Town, shall return such to the custody of that department head, and/or the Town Clerk, designated as the RMO.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Those official records which have been determined by the RMO to have sufficient historical or other value to warrant their continued preservation by the Town.
- Any documents, books, papers, photographs, sound recordings, microforms or any other materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official Town business.
- RECORDS CENTER
- An establishment maintained by the Town primarily for the storage, servicing, security and processing of records which must be preserved for varying periods of time and need not be retained in office equipment or space.
- RECORDS DISPOSITION
- The removal by the Town, in accordance with approved records control schedules, of records no longer necessary for the conduct of business by such Town through removal methods which may include:
- RECORDS MANAGEMENT
- The planning, controlling, directing, organizing, training, promotion and other managerial use and records disposition, including records preservation, records disposal and records centers or other storage facilities.
- Making information in records available to any Town agency for official use or to the public.
[Adopted at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I)]
The people's right to know the process of government decisionmaking and the documents and statistics leading to determinations is basic to our society. Access to such information should not be thwarted by shrouding it with the cloak of secrecy or confidentiality.
These regulations provide information concerning the procedures by which records may be obtained.
Personnel shall furnish to the public the information and records required by the Freedom of Information Law (§ 84 et seq. of the Public Officers Law), as well as records otherwise available by law.
Any conflict among laws governing public access to records shall be construed in favor of the widest possible availability of public records.
The Town Board of the Town of Bethel is responsible for ensuring compliance with the regulations herein and designates the Town Clerk and, in his or her absence, the Deputy Town Clerk as records access officer, who shall be responsible for ensuring appropriate agency response to public requests for access to records. The designation of a records access officer shall not be construed to prohibit officials who have in the past been authorized to make records or information available to the public from continuing to do so.
The records access officer shall ensure that personnel:
Maintain an up-to-date subject matter list.
Assist the requester in identifying requested records, if necessary.
Upon request, certify that a record is a true copy.
Records shall be available for public inspection and copying at the office of the Town Clerk, 3454 Route 55, White Lake, NY 12786.
Requests for public access to records shall be accepted and records produced during all hours that the Clerk's office is regularly open for business.
A written request may be required, but oral requests may be accepted.
A response shall be given regarding any request reasonably describing the record or records sought within five business days of receipt of the request.
A request shall reasonably describe the record or records sought. Wherever possible, a person requesting records should supply information regarding dates, file designations or other information that may help to describe the records sought.
If the records access officer does not provide or deny access to the records sought within five business days of receipt of a request, he or she shall furnish a written acknowledgment of receipt of the request and a statement of the approximate date when the request will be granted or denied. If access to records is neither granted nor denied within 10 business days after the date of acknowledgment of receipt of a request, the request may be construed as a denial of access that may be appealed.
The records access officer shall maintain a reasonably detailed current list by subject matter of all records in his or her possession, whether or not records are available pursuant to Subdivision 2 of § 87 of the Public Officers Law.
The subject matter list shall be sufficiently detailed to permit identification of the category of the record sought.
The subject matter list shall be updated not less than twice per year. The most recent update shall appear on the first page of the subject matter list.
Denial of access to records shall be in writing, stating the reason therefor and advising the requester of the right to appeal to the individual or body established to hear appeals.
If requested records are not provided promptly, as required in § 62-12D of this article, such failure shall also be deemed a denial of access.
The Town Board shall hear appeals for denial of access to records under the Freedom of Information Law. Such appeals shall be made within 30 days of a denial.
The time for deciding an appeal by the body designated to hear appeals shall commence upon receipt of a written appeal identifying:
The date of the appeal.
The date and location of the request for records.
The records to which the requester was denied access.
Whether the denial of access was in writing or due to failure to provide records promptly as required by § 62-12D.
The name and return address of the requester.
The body designated to hear appeals shall transmit to the Committee on Open Government copies of all appeals upon receipt of appeals. Such copies shall be addressed to the Committee on Open Government, Department of State, 162 Washington Avenue, Albany, New York 12231.
The Town Board shall inform the appellant and the Committee on Open Government of its determination, in writing, within 10 business days of receipt of an appeal. The determination shall be transmitted to the Committee on Open Government in the same manner as set forth in Subsection E of this section.
The fee for photocopies not exceeding 8 1/2 inches by 14 inches is $0.25 per page.
A notice containing the title or name and business address of the records access officer and appeals body and the location where records can be seen or copied shall be posted in a conspicuous location wherever records are kept and/or published in a local newspaper of general circulation.