The Code of Alabama 1975 § 41-13-21 delegates determining the permanency of local government records in Alabama to the Local Government Records Commission (LGRC). The Commission held its first meeting of 2022 in April at the Alabama Department of Archives and History Building in Montgomery. This marked the first in-person Commission Meeting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read on for an overview of the events of the April 22, 2022, meeting.
Revision to Local RDAS
The LGRC revises and approves Records Disposition Authorities (RDAs). There are several reasons that a local RDA would need to be revised. These revisions may originate with local contacts’ questions, may arise as part of internal ADAH records management review processes, or be mandated by changes in legislation, policy, or other legal instruments either within or affecting the agency. At this time, there are 18 local RDAs, and a revision may apply to all, some, or just one RDA. Here are the revisions approved during the meeting.
Revisions to All or Multiple RDAs
- “Leave and Attendance Records” (revised record series)
This revision standardized language within the Leave and Attendance Records series and its sub-series. The new language better encompasses all types of unused leave local government agencies allow employees to donate, rather than only identifying sick leave. The retention of these records remains “Retain 2 years following audit.”
- “Commercial and Residential Building Plans, Permits, and Permit Logs” (revised record series)
This revision expands the language of the series in the Municipalities and County Commissions RDAs. The new language includes several different types of permits required before or in addition to obtaining a building permit.
- “Fire District Maps” (new record series)
This new series incorporates fire district maps into the County Commissions, Fire Departments, and Municipalities RDAs. Fire Districts serve unincorporated communities and are formed at the county level through means laid out for each county by the Code of Alabama. Previously, the maps were not included in any local RDA. The use of fire district maps differs from agency to agency. Fire departments may use the maps for emergency response purposes and County Commissions and Municipalities may use the maps for zoning purposes.
Revision to Boards of Education RDA
- “Grant Project Files” (revised record series)
This revision adds a note to the series “Grant Project Files,” clarifying that some records created in the conduct of a Head Start grant program fall under different subfunctions. The note reminds records managers to refer to the appropriate series for retention periods on these records to ensure that all Head Start grant program records are retained for the appropriate length of time.
Revision to County Probate Office RDA
- “Marriage License Applications” (revised records series)
If government records are not included in an RDA, they cannot be dispositioned. When Alabama Act 2019-430 changed the role of probate judges from licensing marriages to recording marriages, the County Probate Office RDA’s language was updated to reflect the new recording process. The new language struck “marriage license applications” from the RDA as they are no longer part of the Probate Judge’s work. Subsequently, probate offices could no longer disposition their backlogs of marriage license applications. The revision adds the subseries “All Other Supporting Documentation” to reintroduce the applications and provides for similar temporary documentation in the future. The records are to be retained for 2 years following audit.
Revisions to County Taxation Office RDA
- Records Series Maintained Via Geographic Systems
(2 new records series)
Two closely related series were added to the County Taxation Offices RDA to reflect tax data stored in Computer-Aided Mass Appraisal (CAMA) and Geographic Systems (GIS) software. These series were added to the Mapping subfunction of County Taxation Offices. Historically, mapping for taxation purposes resulted in physical records such as plat and lot books. CAMA and GIS are categories of software programs that operate in tandem, and their outputs have replaced the physical mapping records within Alabama’s sixty-seven counties. CAMA is a database containing information on property owners, property acreage, and building materials used for structures through words while GIS contains pictures in the form of a property tax map overlaid with parcel information and aerial photography. The revisions were made to reflect modern mapping activities more accurately and will inform upcoming revisions to this subfunction in other RDAs.
Revisions to Law Enforcement RDA
- “Law Enforcement Agency-Owned Animal Records”
(new records series)
This new series addresses the lack of records regarding law enforcement agency-owned animals such as K9 officers, mounted units (horses), and search and rescue dogs in the Law Enforcement RDA. The records include, but are not limited to, purchasing records, training certifications, and veterinary records and are to be retained for six years after the retirement, death, or transfer of an animal. This retention is based on federal guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs.
- “Records of Incarceration Inmate Files (revised records series)
This revision expands and clarifies the descriptive language for the existing series “Records of Incarceration (Inmate Files).” The revision added inmate requests for incoming funds, which were not specifically named before. Other records that are included in in the new description include medical files, criminal history summaries, counseling files, and property receipt forms.
Revisions to Municipalities RDA
- “Police Jurisdiction Maps” (new records series)
This revision adds police jurisdiction maps to the Taxing/Collecting and Disbursing Revenue subfunction of the Municipalities RDA. Despite the name, these maps are used to delineate where a municipality can enforce code and collect sales and use taxes, they do not delineate where the police can respond to calls. The maps may be contained in a GIS program or printed on paper and should be retained until superseded, as the information from these maps is reported to the Alabama Department of Revenue and/or the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts.
- Providing Citizen Services (revision to subfunction)
This revision re-names and broadens the previously existing subfunction “Providing Senior Services.” The new title allows for the inclusion of early childhood development programs and will make future expansions of services offered by municipalities for other subgroups of citizens much simpler. The addition of early childhood development program records became necessary when archivists were made aware of the ability of municipalities to operate Head Start Programs outside of a school setting. The currently approved Regional Planning Commission RDA includes records series for Head Start Programs. Those series were copied and added to the new Providing Citizen Services subfunction of the Municipalities RDA. No changes were made to the existing record series from the Providing Senior Services subfunction.
- Records Series Related to Environmental Control (4 new records series)
These new records series were added after the City of Huntsville made the ADAH Records Management Section aware that the city maintains its own environmental department. Records generated by their programs document monitoring air pollution output, administering clean-up programs, and leading educational programming and were not in the currently approved Municipalities RDA. Other cities may currently have or may form similar environmental monitoring programs. The omission of these records is rectified by the addition of four new records series. The series are:
- Citizen Clean-Up Program Records
- Environmental Control Permitting Records
- Nuisance Complaint Files – which include environmental permit violations as well and animal control violations and noise complaints.
- Educational Program Records
Obsolete Records Destruction
Records Management staff reported on authorized local records destruction for fiscal year 2021. Local governments submitted an impressive 1,025 destruction notices. These notices amounting to 81,427.88 cubic feet of records approved for destruction are more than double the numbers from fiscal year 2020. The growth in submissions may stem from outreach to local contacts through the distribution of the Managing Local Records in Alabama booklet. The booklet was distributed to every city clerk, every probate office, every Sheriff’s office, and every county commission in Alabama. Records Management staff informed the Local Government Record Commission that fiscal year 2022’s priority will be to target counties that have had minimal interaction with the ADAH over the past four years through outreach and mailings of the booklet.
Records Management Section Annual Report for FY 2021
Each year the Records Management Section prepares a report summarizing the work, outreach, and initiatives undertaken by records management archivists at the ADAH. Staff presented the report and highlighted the in-person and virtual trainings offered to local government officials. For more information on the section annual report, please see the blog post from April 16, 2022, and download a copy of the report from the Manage Public Records page on the ADAH website.
The second meeting of 2022 will be held on Wednesday, October 26, 2022, at the Alabama Department of Archives and History building. Interested individuals are encouraged to attend.