Alabama town revitalizes record storage plans
In Tuscumbia, Alabama, mayor Bill Shoemaker is preparing his staff to take an important step in the progression of the city's records management practices. According to the Times Daily, the construction is nearly complete on a new city hall which will provide ample space to store a growing collection of documents that have been scattered around a variety of municipal offices in recent years.
The challenges faced by Tuscumbia administrators are not uncommon. Like many small towns, their records storage needs have been steadily outgrowing dated infrastructure. According to the Times Daily, the current city hall is filled to the brim with cardboard boxes containing town council meeting minutes, tax records, maps and other documents dating back to the 19th century. As records continued to pile up on employee desks - they even cover the stage of an old auditorium in the building - other public offices have been asked to shoulder some of the burden as well.
According to the news source, the city now pays $1,200 in rent each month to the Tuscumbia Utilities Department so that records clerks can use open floor space to store boxes in the basement.
"All of that stuff is there because we couldn't get it in here," city clerk Jo Ann Armstead told the Times Daily. "Then there are file cabinets full of things that are in different places."
As records storage challenges began to affect operations in municipal offices all around town, Shoemaker knew that his team's current strategy was no longer sustainable. Considering the cultural and legal significance of preserving public records, he decided to acquire and renovate Tuscumbia's old post office.
Although local officials are excited to move on to the next phase of their records management revitalization, it seems as though they may have overlooked a viable - and potentially more affordable - alternative.
The city purchased the old post office for $129,000 back in 2009, according to the Times Daily, and construction costs are estimated to be approximately $600,000 when all is said and done. Instead of investing in facilities that they may outgrow in a few decades, that money could have been used to secure an outsourcing contract with an information management company.
By taking advantage of the vast resources of such an organization, local officials would have little fear that they could be confronted with similar capacity concerns down the road. Also, by storing records in the secure facilities of an expert partner, disaster recovery and business continuity capabilities are instantly improved. Alabama is no stranger to dangerous weather, and having a sound backup strategy could be especially important in Tuscumbia.