Historic Documents Preservation Account Advisory Committee
Van Block Facility
March 18, 2009
Members Present: State Librarian Kendall Wiggin, CSL; Public Records Administrator Eunice DiBella, CSL; Administrative Services Director Richard Kingston, CSL; State Archivist Mark H. Jones, CSL; Preservation Librarian Jane Cullinane, CSL; Joyce P. Mascena, Glastonbury Town Clerk; Therese Pac, Bristol Town Clerk; Carla Pomprowicz, Hebron Town Clerk; Ginger Salisbury, Southbury Town Clerk; Chic Spinelli, Waterbury City Clerk; Patty Strauss, Westport Town Clerk; and Sandi Wieleba, East Hampton Town Clerk.
Members Absent: Building Consultant Mary Louise Jensen, CSL; Grants Manager Sheila Mosman, CSL; Nancy Bray, Colchester Town Clerk; Joseph Quartiero, Torrington Town Clerk; Louisa Trakas, Plainfield Town Clerk; Lisa Valenti, North Branford Town Clerk
Others Present: Lizette Pelletier, CSL; Kathy Makover, CSL
I. The State Librarian called the meeting to order at 1:15 p.m.
II. The State Librarian introduced Ginger Salisbury, Southbury Town Clerk, who is the newest member of the Advisory Board.
III. The members reviewed the minutes of the November 13, 2009 meeting. Jane Cullinane made a motion to approve as written. Mark Jones seconded the motion. The motion passed with Ginger Salisbury abstaining as she was not at the last meeting.
IV. Rich Kingston reported that fund revenues continue to drop at an average of 19.5% from last year. The fund could have a cash flow problem in FY2011 if the fiscal situation does not turn around. He also reported that towns have been taking longer to submit their monthly filings. The current fund balance is $1,071,378. Rich is confident that we will make it through FY2011, though we may have to temporarily suspend the competitive grants for the FY2011 grant year. He will have more complete information by the next meeting. Administrative costs have been reduced to match the revenue coming in.
The State Librarian also reported that the legislature has been looking at all funds outside of the general fund including this one. So far, no bills have been introduced to take back the money.
The State Librarian submitted proposed legislation to the Office of Policy and Management to raise the filing fee to from $3.00 to $6.00. The Town Clerks would retain $2.00 for their local use and send the other $4.00 to the State Library. The fund distribution would remain at 30% for the Library and 70% for the grant program. Nothing appeared in the Governor’s budget. There is a bill to increase all statutory fees by 25% to date, but it has gone nowhere. Some fees have not been raised since the 1960s. The towns are experiencing many of the same fiscal issues as the state.
The town clerks reported that there has been some increase in mortgage refinance filings. They were concerned about attorneys trying to avoid paying the fee by bundling releases together. They need some language to back them up if they are going to reject bundled documents.
V. Old Business
1. FY2009 Grants:
a. The program awarded 151 grants consisting of 140 targeted grants, 10 competitive grants and 1 disaster recovery grant. Four towns still have contracts outstanding. Another five towns are in the last phase for approval and should be paid within a week. Twenty-nine towns have already submitted their final reports.
b. May 31, 2009 is the deadline to amend or request an extension for any grant project. The staff encourages the town clerks to apply sooner than that date to allow enough turnaround time for the required paperwork. The deadline is being changed to April 30th under the FY10 guidelines.
2. FY2010 Grants:
a. Nineteen towns have submitted targeted applications to date. The deadline to submit Cycle 1 applications is April 30, 2009. Town clerks are encouraged to apply in Cycle 1. Towns do not have to be finished with FY09 grants by the April 30th deadline to be eligible to apply for the FY10 grants.
b. Nine towns have applied for competitive grants: one archival management project and eight records management projects for a total amount requested of $429,437. The amount available for competitive grants is $250,000. The staff has completed its technical review and sent its recommendations for revision to the applicants. The applicants have been notified that the projects may not be fully funded even if approved. The postmark deadline for the final application is March 31, 2009.
Some towns are applying for the fourth phase of a multiyear project. The staff has requested that these towns provide more information, if necessary, on what the town’s long term goals are, what this year’s goals are and how they fit into the long term goals and the estimated end date for the whole project. The State Librarian suggested that the program may need to establish some restrictions for long term projects such as fully funding the first year and then reducing the amount funded for subsequent years, requiring the town to provide increasing support for the project, each year. The Public Records Administrator said the program may need to require a certain percentage of matching town funds in the future.
3. Vendors: Kathy Makover distributed two lists. One list is of vendors that have been approved by the Public Records Administrator per statute, by grant guideline requirements and the other is a vendor directory for municipal and state agency staff convenience. Users should see the last page of the Vendor Approved List, under “Scope,” for an explanation of the categories. Additional information including marketing prohibitions, film and imaging requirements, and where to find information on state contracts is also provided on the last page of either list. The town clerks suggested posting a notice on the Town Clerk’s website that the revised lists are available from the Office of the Public Records Administrator. Kathy Makover will work with the webmaster.
B. Workshops & Training:
1. Thirty-one people representing twenty-six towns attended the January grant training session on January 14th. The single session seemed to work well. No clerks complained about not having a second session. The attendees were evenly split between those interested in targeted grants and those interested in competitive grants.
2. The staff is working on the annual workshop which will be held in conjunction with the fall Town Clerks’ Conference. The topic will be microfilming / imaging standards, projects and working with vendors / contracts. Kathy Makover contacted Lori Foley at the Northeast Document Conservation Center [NEDCC]. Lori has a lot of ideas for the workshop and is available either Wednesday or Friday of that week.
This will be a half day class, most likely on Friday morning. The Public Records Administrator hopes that it will eventually become a full day pre-conference workshop. It is possible that future spring conferences may only be one day. The conference registration fee will include the cost for the workshop. The town clerks believe combining the workshop with the conference will help to justify the expense of attending the conference for many clerks.
3. The Public Records Staff will be the faculty for the Town Clerks’ School module on records management on Tuesday May 12, 2009.
C. Map issues:
1. Kathy Makover reported that the Land Recording Technology Advisory Committee planned to meet with Bob Dahn, a licensed land surveyor, to discuss replacement procedures for the deteriorating maps as well as other map issues.
2. Lizette Pelletier reported that the Land Surveyors Association wanted to further amend the Map Regulations to require separate indexes for survey maps, condominiums plans and other plans allowed to be filed. Because such a change would require republication of the additional proposed changes and a hearing, the Office of Public Records Administrator rejected the suggestion but would keep it under consideration for a further revision. The current proposed amendments will be submitted to the Regulation Review Committee in the near future.
D. Electronic Recording:
1. The Committee on Government Administration and Elections is holding a hearing next Tuesday at 9:00 am on Raised Bill 1150 to amend the Electronic Recording Act. The amendment when passed will allow the State Librarian to convene the advisory committee prior to the October 1st deadline set in the initial legislation.
2. The Public Records Administrator received an email from the Town Clerk of Branford. She posted images of the land records on the town website. Each image has a watermark that says “unofficial.” Individuals who do not want to come in for an “official” copy are printing off the image with the “unofficial” watermark, attaching it to other documents and then trying to file it on the land records. She is not certain what she should do about the printed “unofficial” documents.
The Town Clerks on the committee stated that she should have only posted the index. One issue here is revenue loss. Two towns have a subscription fee for official images and a printing fee. Joyce Mascena stated that the Town Clerks hoped to get a standardized fee schedule because having 169 individual fee schedules creates difficulties. There is no prohibition for charging for the images but there are no standards at this time.
VI. New Business
A. Therese Pac raised the issue of researchers bringing in flat bed scanners into the vault and making their own copies. A title searcher has been going around the state scanning documents from bound over-size books with a flat bed letter size scanner. When told to stop because he was not following established procedures and damaging the documents, he filed a FOI complaint against the town clerks attempting to stop him. The Public Records Administrator said that if using the scanner damages the documents it should not be done. People bringing in flat bed scanners are also trying to plug into vault outlets.
A new bill has been introduced in the legislature that would allow flat bed scanners in the vaults. The State Librarian stated that the agency would testify against the bill if there is a hearing or at any FOI hearing. The Town Clerks recently had a meeting with Representative Steve Fontana. They believe he would be willing to temporarily set aside the bill if the Town Clerk’s Association develops a plan to make images available so researchers would not handle the original documents. This might be an opportunity to leverage more money for small towns who cannot afford to image all their documents.
B. Lizette Pelletier will be posting a copy of the National League of City’s Municipal Action Guide on Protecting Essential Records from Disasters on the State Library website. This is an excellent resource with guidelines on how to identify a town’s essential operational records and how to plan for their protection in the event of many types of disasters.
VII. The State Librarian adjourned the meeting at 2:25 p.m.
VIII. The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday July 22, 2009 at 1 p.m. at the Van Block Facility. Everyone is welcomed to share a brown bag lunch prior to the meeting.
Lizette Pelletier, Recorder
March 18, 2009