Getting organized | Record retention plan presented at Aldermen meeting

Published 11:23 am Friday, July 27, 2012

The town of Franklinton was running into a problem: too much paperwork and not enough storage space. Thus, the town has implemented a record retention plan that will allow some old documents to be discarded, following state guidelines.

Alderwoman Florence Manning, the guiding force behind the project, provided a report on the plan during the Board of Aldermen meeting held Tuesday night. The plan was born out of a state mandate, she said.

“It’s required that all towns should have a plan and follow that plan,” she said. “It is not just a handbook that comes from the state. The steps taken to achieve this plan are quite complicated.”

The process began two years ago, when all town of Franklinton departments were asked to make a list of all the records they were storing, such as old checkbooks and paid bills, Manning said. All this information was gathered, and then the town worked with the state to formulate its plan — a process that took place over the course of the summer, she said.

“This is a custom-made retention plan for the town of Franklinton, made with the state and in conjunction with all the employees that spent a whole lot of time doing it,” she said.

The plan lets the town know what records can be discarded, how long they have to be kept and which ones have to be stored forever, Manning said. Any time the records are to be cleaned out, she said, a detailed list has to be sent to Baton Rouge first. There, the approval will be granted on which documents can be thrown away or put through the shredder, she said.

The town got a new storage room a few years ago, but that did not solve the record overload problem, Manning said.

“Several years ago when we built the driver’s license bureau, we built a beautiful storage shed, and we immediately filled it to the celling with junk,” she said with a laugh. “We had records, upon records, upon records.”

Now that the plan is in place, town clerk Merty G. Fitzmorris and the rest of the staff have devoted many hours to getting the storage facility in order, Manning said. Documents have been shredded, and the room is “just immaculate,” she said.

“Every shelf is dated with the records, how long they’re being kept, when they can be thrown away,” she said, adding that the records that can never be discarded are also organized on the shelves.

One pile is currently sitting in the middle of the storage room, as the staff awaits the state’s verdict on if those records can be shredded, Manning said. The cleanup process will be done on a yearly basis, she said.

A benefit of having a record retention plan, Manning said, is that it provides some protection for the town. If records were thrown away without state approval and then the town later had to prove something from those documents, it would be considered at fault. However, if all departments follow the plan, then documents will never be destroyed until the state has given its OK, she said.

Manning thanked all those who helped put the record retention plan into action.

“This has been a major, major project with major, major work,” she said. “Merty and all of them have just worked tremendously, and I commend them. They have done a fabulous job, and we now have a complete record retention plan and everything is up to date. I do appreciate their hard work.”