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Plans move ahead for archive at mayor’s office

During a called meeting on March 24, members of the Public Records Commission approved three resolutions that will bring the establishment of a county archive one step closer.
The first resolution establishes the archive as the Washington County Records Management and Archives Department, which will operate according to the rules and regulations set by the Washington County Public Records Commission and under the direction of the county mayor.
Following approval by the County Commission, “Management will be appointed, supervised and dismissed by the mayor,” said County Attorney John Rambo.
The second resolution addresses the relocation of the mayor’s offices to the courthouse and the designation of 103 W. Main St. as the site for the archive.
Mayor Dan Eldridge proposed offering his current building for the archive during the January meeting of the Public Records Commission. The resolution includes “the desire of the County Mayor to move his office, the offices of the Director of Accounts and Budgets, and the offices of the Purchasing Agent from the current county office building to the areas of the second floor of the Washington County Courthouse not presently occupied by the Washington County Election Commission.”
Eldridge said moving his offices would require minimal renovations, including new carpet, installation of doors, and the erection of a few dividing walls. “We think $50,000 will take care of it.”
A new location for the mayor will also mean a change in the meeting site for the Washington County Commission. Following the move, Commissioners will hold their monthly meetings in Courtroom 7 of the George P. Jaynes Justice Center.
The archive will be set up in the office building at 103 W. Main St., with the old jail cell area designated as overflow storage space for public records.
Eldridge said he spoke with several Public Records Commission members, and the consensus was to get the archive up and running before looking at renovation needs.
“We can knock down some of the non-load-bearing walls and open up the inside of the building, but no work may be needed in the first couple of years,” he said.
John Kiener agreed.
“A lot of work needs to be done first on record prioritization and determining the amount of records that will be included,” he said. “I think it would be a minimum of a year before any renovations.”
Public Records Commission members also hope to have an archivist in place to provide input on the design of the space.
Fees to support the ongoing operation of the archive are included in the third resolution. In accordance with a state statute that authorizes counties to establish an archive and record management fee, the following will become effective July 1:
Zoning Department – $5 fee for all building permit application, rezoning requests, variance applications and stormwater permits; County Clerk – $5 fee for all marriage license applications, beer permit applications, notary public applications, vehicle titles, replacement vehicle titles and business license applications; Courts of General Sessions, Circuit, Probate and Chancery – $5 fee for all public records filed with the clerks of court for the purpose of initiating a legal proceeding; and Highway Department – $5 fee for all driveway permits and road-cutting applications.
“These are typically infrequent fees,” Rambo said, adding that a fee will not be assessed for vehicle renewal tags.
Members of the Public Records Commission will take the resolutions to the April meetings of the County-Owned Property Committee and the Budget Committee for review. If approved, a final decision will be made by the County Commission during its April 25 meeting.
A separate monthly meeting of the Public Records Commission will not be held during April.