BLOUNT COUNTY, TENNESSEE
County could charge for records.
by Lesli Bales-Sherrod
A $2 fee on filing permanent records could raise $60,000 a year for the Blount County Records Management office, Records Manager Jackie Glenn told three county committees last week.
Glenn asked the members of the county Budget Committee, Public Services Committee and Intergovernmental Committee to approve and send on to the full County Commission a resolution requesting Blount County's state senator and representatives sponsor a bill allowing counties to impose a user's fee on permanent documents.
The resolution also requests the local legislators sponsor a public act in the General Assembly authorizing Blount County to levy and collect a fee of $2 per permanent document filed, which would be used exclusively for the Records Management office.
Permanent records include court cases, deeds, divorces, marriage licenses and probated estates (wills). Glenn estimated 30,905 permanent documents were filed in the Records Management office in fiscal year 2003-04, according to information put together by Glenn for the County Commission. At $2 per document, $61,810 would have been raised that year if a fee had been in place.
"It would be a good way to help defer some of the costs of storing permanent documents," Glenn said. "We're mandated to keep records, but there's no money to help."
Glenn stores permanent documents in the courthouse and in the basement of Everett Recreation Center, but she said both locations are full. She stopped accepting permanent documents in April 2004 because she has no more room.
"I'm out of space and need extra room," Glenn said. "I would like to get one place I could store the records in. Right now, I'm going back and forth about three times a week."
Keith Brock, who sits on the budget and intergovernmental committees, said the space problem will continue as long as Glenn is mandated to keep records permanently.
"She could fund her own building and technology out of this," he said. "It would be fee based, not out of property taxes. It's an opportunity to create something for her with her own money."
But Intergovernmental Committee member Jeff McCall said Register of Deeds Penny H. Whaley does not think a Records Management fee should be collected on records filed in her office because she no longer stores records in Records Management. Instead, she charges a $2 data processing fee that goes to help her scan and index records on computer.
"We can store all our records in our office, on CDs and microfilm," Whaley said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "We won't have to store documents in Records (Management). We haven't sent anything in years."
McCall said he would be "more apt to support" the fee if it excluded records filed in the Register of Deeds office.
Meanwhile, Intergovernmental Committee member Mike Walker wondered about adding another fee to those already tacked onto records. He asked Glenn to provide the full County Commission with a list of permanent documents that her office is responsible for storing.
The resolution was approved and passed on to the full County Commission by all three committees, but the vote in the Intergovernmental Committee was close, with Chairman Bob Evans, Brock, Steve Gray, Dan Neubert, Shirley Townsend and Walker voting for it and Gary Farmer, Steve Hargis, McCall and Kenneth Melton voting against it. Joe Everett was absent.
The Maryville Daily Times, January 19, 2005
Submitted by Glenn Teffeteller.
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