Utilizing an approximately $30,000 local government record management grant, the Village of Nelliston has modernized and streamlined its record retention system, re-organizing and cataloging documents and creating new storage space for items dating back to 1889.
The process began in 2019, when the village hired a consultant to write the grant and go through the village’s many boxes of records — including historical items, minutes, maps and payroll information — determining what was eligible for destruction and what must be saved.
“Most of it was not being stored properly,” prior to the record revitalization process, said Nelliston Village Clerk and Record Management Officer Eddie Watt, noting that records had previously been kept in a variety of places, including in a back room of the village hall and in the facility’s ceiling, with some even being stored off-site.
Documents are now boxed with like documents, labeled by time period, and marked with information regarding how long each set of physical items must be retained — those times wildly varying, with some items requiring a six year retention period, the village being required to keep others for 55 years (payroll), or even permanently (historical documents).
The consultant hired by the village also created a digital inventory, which integrates with Google, making it easy for Watt to make continual updates, New York State also requiring him to keep a physical log.
In the future, the consultant will provide the village with a needs assessment, alerting them of processes it should adopt (ie: procedures for email retention).
Once that’s complete and the board has approved a new record retention schedule — taking place as soon as this week’s monthly meeting — the consultant will turn over a final inventory and this project (taking place under the aforementioned grant) will be complete.
In tackling this monumental project, the Village of Nelliston has basically recreated its entire system of collections and record retention, streamlining the process by which Watt would determine the status of and potentially retrieve any document.
The village’s success in this area hasn’t gone unnoticed by neighboring villages, with St. Johnsville Mayor Charles Straney having visited the new records room to view the updated system, and Watt having also communicated with Canajoharie Mayor Jeff Baker regarding the system’s reinvention.
Additional grants exist that the Village of Nelliston could potentially apply for in the future aimed at organizing the contents of each box into labeled folders. The consultant provided an estimate regarding how much time that would take, the hours required to complete that task being significant.
No taxpayer money was utilized in completing this project, as the $30,000 grant money — which also purchased five $2,500 fire proof filing cabinets — was taken from a self-containing state fund created using fees collected when citizens (for instance) transfer property or titles, or fill out paperwork.
Soon, the Nelliston Village Board is planning to go over the village’s infrastructure in detail with an engineering firm. With the new system in place, that process will be made much easier, as the infrastructure maps that were previously located in a plastic bin in the village office’s ceiling were cataloged while being re-stored.
Potential grants are also available for the digitization of records.