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County Records Retention Schedules


The County Records Retention Schedules are proposed and issued by the Records Management and Preservation Board (RMPB). The schedules for the various county offices presented here have been updated, revised and modified based upon the former retention schedules and the W. Va. Code. These schedules remain under review for revisions and modifications to record groups and series listed, as well as the addition of records not listed or scheduled. The retention schedules are posted on the Internet web site to be readily accessible to the various county officeholders to use in managing their records. The records for each office, as currently known and with authority to schedule, are listed under that office. A hot link is provided below to provide instant access to the records schedule for that office. In addition to the name of the record and the scheduled retention period for that record, a comment field is provided. Officeholders are encouraged to use this field to pose questions regarding the record or retention period, by copying and entering notes or comments in the comment field and sending as e-mail, fax or regular mail. These will then be reviewed and acted upon directly or presented to the RMPB to consider for further evaluation of the retention period.

County officials are encouraged to observe the correct time period for the retention of each record delineated on the schedule; must retain records for the minimum retention period; follow appropriate procedures for retiring or destroying records. Some points of this process are addressed below and the County Records Manual provides additional guidance for the process. Additional direct assistance can be obtained by contacting Denise Ferguson at Denise.L.Ferguson@wv.gov, or by calling 558-0230. For records an office creates and manages, which are not on the retention schedule for that office, a copy of the record and its use or function should be sent to Archives and History, Bldg. 9, 1900 Kanawha Blvd., E., Charleston, WV 25305-0300. These records will be appraised and presented to the RMPB for the new records retention schedules to be presented as a legislative rule next year. This is the process required to add records not currently listed and scheduled, unless there is a Code reference which includes retention requirements.

COUNTY OFFICE SCHEDULES:

Assessor
Circuit Clerk
County Clerk
Prosecuting Attorney
Sheriff

The records retention schedule is a primary tool in the management of the records of your office. At this time it lists most of your records and the requirements for retention of these records in a number of years to permanent. It does not distinguish between records which are active and should be maintained in your immediate office or file room and inactive, which are records of extended retention which might be stored in your custody but not in your active office or file room work space. Records which are not scheduled Permanent, may, once they have reached and exceeded the required retention period, qualify for the disposal process. It is good records management practice to implement the records disposal process once records exceed the required retention period listed in the schedule. To implement the disposal process requires notification.

NOTIFICATION

Section 5A-8-15, W. Va. Code, provides that no record shall be destroyed or otherwise disposed of unless it is determined by the Director of Archives and History that the record has no further administrative, legal, fiscal, or historical value (see also §57-1-7c, W. Va. Code). Therefore, the Director of Archives and History must be notified of any planned destruction of records and must approve by signing the Authorization to Destroy Records form. Prior to destruction, the official shall list the name of the record group or series, the date span (beginning and end date) of the records and the volume or quantity of records listed for disposal. Any record that the official may consider having special or potential historical significance should be noted. If the record is a copy of an original filed elsewhere or a record which has been microfilmed and certified as a true and accurate copy in an archival microfilm format, this should be noted and referenced on the form. Officials must use the Authorization to Destroy Records form for approval to dispose of records and may not dispose of records prior to its approval. Forms are to be sent to:

Archives and History
Bldg. 9
1900 Kanawha Blvd., E.
Charleston, WV 25305-0300
Fax: 304-558-4193

The Director will sign or respond to submitted forms within thirty days (30) and may request that certain records be held for additional appraisal by Archives and History prior to destruction or transfer to the State Archives.

DESTRUCTION OF RECORDS

Destruction of records should be accomplished in a manner that ensures that records will not be subject to accidental disclosure to the public. It is recommended that documents be shredded and taken directly to a land fill, recycling center or other waste disposal facility. If records can be incinerated, it is not necessary to shred them prior to bringing them to the incinerator. In either case, the process of destruction should be overseen by the official or a deputy designated by the official.

Destruction of audio cassettes is accomplished by erasing the entire contents of the tape. Cassette tapes may then be recycled.

Upon completion of the destruction of records approved, the Authorization to Destroy Records form must be signed and dated. Officials must maintain a list of all destroyed records which shows the date disposed, and the type of record (e.g. financial, administrative, etc.). If the records are available on microfilm or alternate format, the reference number should be noted. The signed Authorization to Destroy Records form must be retained as a permanent record. Officials may find the Records Disposal Report a convenient and useful record management tool to monitor record series frequently and regularly disposed of.

PERMANENT STORAGE

The retention schedule requires that many records, most notably land records, be retained permanently. Permanent storage involves securing and preserving the original paper documents or reformatting these documents to microfilm.

Permanent storage of paper documents requires the use of low-acid file folders and record boxes, and a document medium that meets archival standards. At a minimum, the physical environment of the storage space should be dry, with constant temperature 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit, relative humidity of 50 percent, and protected from natural and ultraviolet light sources such as florescent lighting.

At the present time, microfilm is the only alternative storage medium which meets archival standards for storing permanent records (see §57-1-7c, W.Va. Code). The master or original of the film must be stored off-site in a secure and environmentally controlled facility. A duplicate of the film is to be used in the county official's office. Paper records may be destroyed once every image on the microfilm has been visually inspected to insure the record is a complete and accurate duplication of the original and legible.

The use of imaging technology which uses electronic scanning and digitizing as opposed to a photographic type process is acceptable as an interim storage medium if it provides an exact copy of each document, prohibits alteration of any document, and readily shows any attempt to alter a document (see §51-4-3, W.Va. Code). A copy of each disk should be made prior to the expiration of the established disk-life, and, as with microfilm, a copy of the disk must be kept off- site in a secure and environmentally controlled facility. At this time imaging, while a convenient and acceptable solution to access and storage problems, is not considered permanent storage which meets archival standards.

Concern for the archival quality and security of alternative media is premised on the assumption that the retention period for most of the records which would be converted to such media is "permanent." For space considerations, some offices choose to convert other types of records to microfilm and dispose of the paper records or move them to a storage facility. Such decisions should be made in light of a cost-benefit analysis which takes into account the cost to be reformatted, frequency of access, and how long the records must be maintained under the retention schedule. For example, it is questionable whether it makes sense to microfilm or otherwise reformat records which only need to survive for ten years. On the other hand, it may be worthwhile to reformat records which have a retention period of 75 years.

This retention schedule is effective until replaced by the Records Management and Preservation Board and for the Circuit Clerk records by the Supreme Court of Appeals. The records of county government entities are being inventoried and appraised now as part of the process to update and revise these retention periods and requirements through the Legislative Rule-making process. Your participation and contributions to this two-year process are invited and encouraged. For suggestions and questions, contact the Director of Archives and History by most convenient means provided above.


Records Management and Preservation Board