A part-time records manager has been hired for the next fiscal year after an assessment found the county’s records have been in disarray.
The Hays County Commissioners Court decided to add a part-time records manager position after an internal assessment found $100,000 was spent in unnecessary scans and some departments were destroying permanent records. Effective Oct. 1, Melody Barron, county law librarian, took over the position in addition to her current role.
Mark Kennedy, special counsel to the Commissioners Court, said Barron dedicates 20 hours each to the roles of law librarian and records manager. Barron’s first duty as records manager will be to assess the recovered documents and organize them with a better system.
Laureen Chernow, Hays County communications specialist, said prior to the Commissioners Court’s decision to create the position, records management was handled within each department. The departments made decisions regarding which documents should be kept and which should be discarded.
Kennedy said the department responsible for the $100,000 worth of unnecessary electronic scans is a subdivision of the state, and no county funds were used to his knowledge.
Hays County Clerk Liz Gonzalez said the county has not had a records manager since about 1995.
“Every year it is brought up that (the court) needed to have (a records manager) or wanted to get one, but there was never really a push in that area,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said the state library sets up retention schedules for documents, and the departments follow those schedules to determine which ones are considered permanent. The schedule denotes which documents can be destroyed and when.
“Everybody has got a retention schedule, but some offices maybe did not realize that they have to follow that,” Gonzalez said.
There could be legal consequences for destroying documents in some cases, but there has to be an element of knowingness and intention, Kennedy said.
“I think anything that has happened at the county thus far is due to a lack of education and training on the issue,” Kennedy said.
Chernow said Barron’s position is necessary to the county since the records management portion is more of a requirement and more complex than it has been in the past.
“This will bring a lot more formality and regulation to the records keeping process,” Chernow said.
A public hearing in response to this addition and others to the county budget will occur Sept. 18 at 1:30 p.m. in the Commissioners Courtroom at the Hays County Courthouse.