Historic Documents Preservation Account Advisory Committee

Van Block Facility

March 21, 2012

 

Minutes

 

 

Members Present:         State Librarian Kendall Wiggin, CSL; Public Records Administrator LeAnn Power, CSL; Fiscal Administrator Mark Smith, CSL; Preservation Librarian Jane Cullinane, CSL; Nancy Bray, Colchester Town Clerk; Joyce P. Mascena, Glastonbury Town Clerk; Debra L. McKeon, Colebrook Town Clerk; Carla Pomprowicz, Hebron Town Clerk; Ginger Salisbury, Southbury Town Clerk; Patty Strauss, Westport Town Clerk; and Sandi Wieleba, East Hampton Town Clerk.

 

Members Absent:          State Archivist Mark H. Jones, CSL; Therese Pac, Bristol Town Clerk; Antoinette Spinelli, Waterbury City Clerk; Louisa Trakas, Plainfield Town Clerk; and Lisa Valenti, North Branford Town Clerk.

 

Others Present: Public Records Archivist Lizette Pelletier, CSL; Field Archivist Kathy Makover, CSL.

 

 

I.            The State Librarian called the meeting to order at 1:06 p.m.

II.          The members reviewed the minutes of the November 30, 2011 meeting.  Joyce Mascena made a motion to approve.  Carla Pomprowicz seconded the motion.  The minutes were approved on a voice vote.

III.        There were no introductions. 

IV.       Fiscal Report

Mark Smith reviewed the fiscal report provided in the committee’s meeting packet. Revenue for FY2012 remains significantly down from the same period in FY2011.  Kathy’s adjusted report also reflects a double digit percentage loss. These figures include the new foreclosure receipts.  Most town clerks on the committee were surprised at the numbers as they are experiencing higher volumes.  Sandy Wieleba stated that she is seeing a lot of state liens and the fee does not apply.  Also some areas of the state may be seeing increased sales but others are not.

Ginger Salisbury was pleased see that Beacon Falls was no longer on the delinquent filing list. The number of towns more than 30 days in arrears is down considerably.  The individual at the Department of Administrative Services who handles payments to the State seems to be following up with towns on a regular basis.

V.         Old Business

A.         Grants

                                                   1.          FY 2012 Grants:  Kathy reported that one contract remains pending at this time and one town is currently filing an amendment for its project.  Final reports have started to come into the office.  She has received about 40 to date. 

                                                   2.          FY 2013 Grants:  Kathy has received about 20 Cycle 1 applications thus far. 

B.          Workshops & Training: 

                                                   1.          State Library staff conducted the Records Management module of the Town Clerks School on December 13th at Central Connecticut State University.  The training was well received.

                                                   2.          The New Town Clerks’ orientation was held in January at the Legislative Office Building.  Twelve clerks attended.  The Public Records staff spoke on records retention, disaster planning and the grant program.

                                                   3.          The committee discussed the panel discussion to be held on Friday at the Town Clerks Association Conference in April.  The goal is to provide town clerks with more specific information about how the eRecording process works.  There will be a demonstration of an electronic document delivery system.  The panel will include representatives from the Property Recording Industry Association [PRIA], a Massachusetts county clerk, town clerk members from the eRecording Advisory Committee, Ken and LeAnn.

                                                   4.          Lizette reported on the Intergovernmental Protection for Essential Records [IPER] courses.  The first course, Essential Records, was repeated in January.  The second course, Records Emergency Planning and Response, which was originally scheduled for March will be in late May.  Unfortunately, the May date that accommodated all three instructors’ schedules conflicts with the IMCC conference that week so many of the clerks will not be able to attend.  Ginger asked about the possibility of another session later in the year.  The Office of the Public Records Administrator will be losing its other staff member, Jeff Collins, who has taken a job in his home state of Arizona.  Kathy, Lizette and LeAnn will have to take on additional duties until the Library can refill the position.  The Council of State Archivists, which developed the courses, will be making available to each state a self-directed version of the course on DVD that can be loaned to public agencies or made available on the Library’s web site.

C.         Real Property Electronic Recording Committee:

                                                   1.          The committee met on February 7.  The proposed regulation is in its final revision.  Kathy will be sending the document out to the members for a final review.  After the comment period closes, the Library will begin the formal review and approval process.  If any committee members have additional concerns, they can be addressed during the formal review process.  Kathy has already been asked to share the final draft to New York State as a model for their regulations.

                                                   2.          Ginger asked if LeAnn will be approving the vendors similar to what the office does for land recording systems.  Ken stated that the Public Records Administrator will not be approving the eRecording vendors because the regulations provide the requirements that the vendors must follow.

D.         Legislative Session:

                                                   1.          The committee discussed a number of bills pending before the legislature this session.  It has been an inordinately busy year.  The staff has spent a significant amount of time writing testimony. 

a.           HB 5398 concerns the scanning and disposition of original town records.  Ken testified against the bill because while electronic imaging is appropriate for access, it is not appropriate for preservation of important town records.  Electronic systems are subject to failure.  The town of Vernon experienced a server crash last week that is estimated to last a week.  The October storm served as another example of a situation in which records stored only electronically could not be accessed for a prolonged period of time.  It seems that many see scanning as more cost effective than storing the records in hard copy formats.  However, committee members also pointed out that towns are likely storing records long beyond the time they are eligible for disposition. 

b.           SB 439 proposes amending CGS section 7-27 to require the Public Records Administrator to update the vault regulations.  LeAnn testified before the Planning and Development Committee this morning.  She informed the committee that staff have already begun the necessary research for these revisions.  She expects to form an advisory committee of subject experts including building officials and fire safety engineers after completing work on the eRecording Regulations.  She also indicated that the authority for the vault regulations lies in CGS section 11-8a rather than section 7-27.

c.           SB 418 Uniform Electronic Legal Materials Act was introduced as a result of the State Library’s work on authentication and preservation of electronic records.  The bill would identify the entity which publishes the official legal copy of certain key documents such as the statutes, regulations and court rulings.  Connecticut may be the first state to pass the uniform legislation.  The Library has recommended that the legislation include a definition of “official record copy.”

d.           HB 5463 would allow an individual to make an oral FOI request.  However, the agency still has the right to ask that the request be put in writing.  FOI says the requester already has that right.

e.           There are a lot of bills that have come out of committee as joint favorable status but with substitutions that have nothing to do with the original bill.  The Library staff is reviewing the bills to make sure that there are no surprises.  No bills have appeared to fix the “privileged correspondence” exclusion that was passed last year and retroactively applied confidentiality to records that had not previously been restricted. Ken would like to limit all restrictions to 75 years which follows the federal model.

f.            SB 427 is a governor’s bill regarding redaction of social security numbers in town data posted on the internet.  There was a hearing last Monday that the Town Clerks Association only found out about on Tuesday.  The committee members discussed the variety of ways that social security numbers are currently being handled within the towns.  They are looking for guidance.  Patty stated that if a document has a map or a death certificate as the last page, she adds a blank page for her recording stamp and signature, so that her recording stamp/signature cannot be mistaken as a certification of those documents.  Public Health is developing a set of rules prohibiting the filing of death certificates on the land records that the clerks can show attorneys and others. 

Ken thought that there might be a possibility of getting a bill introduced to prohibit the filing of certain problematic items which also would free the clerk from any liability and put the onus on the filer.  DD214s were filed on the land records at one time.  If the clerks and the Library have the proposed legislation ready in the fall, Ken can work through the Governor’s Office to get it introduced.

                                                   2.          PA 12-03, which provides a minor fix regarding redaction of addresses of certain officials and public employees, was not the bill [HB5035] negotiated by the affected parties over last summer and fall.  It was passed through the Emergency Certification process.  It does exempt election records and land records, but only the grand list is exempt in the assessor records.

E.     State Archivist Report: The State Archivist just recently returned from an extended medical leave.  The Library is expanding its storage capacity at Van Block. It has received a large number of probate records due to the district mergers that happened last year.

F.          Other:  Jane Cullinane reminded the clerks about the Emergency Response state contract that is available to municipalities and certain non-profits in addition to state agencies for records recovery services.  She has posted additional contracts information on the COSTEP-CT site at http://costep.cslib.org/. The State Library is in the process of upgrading its webpage which will be unveiled during National Library Week in April.  Lizette and Jane are working to develop a single page for all disaster and preservation information.

VI.       New Business: Public Records Advisory Committee:  The liaison group from the Town Clerks Association, which has had a variety of names over the years, will be meeting on Friday.  The main topic of discussion will be the Attorney General’s opinion issued in August regarding electronic and facsimile signatures.  It updated an earlier opinion from 1987 but there are still questions.  LeAnn had hoped to have a joint meeting with the attorney who wrote the opinion, but there are client attorney privilege issues so the staff will meet with the liaison group separately.

The advisory committee includes a cross section of town clerks.  It was envisioned to deal with any topics that are not already covered by existing committees, like those for the grant program or the eRecording regulations.

VII.     A motion was made by Jane Cullinane and seconded to adjourn the meeting at 2:40.  The motion passed.

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Lizette Pelletier, Recorder

March 21, 2012