DERRY — The town clerk’s office will be able to preserve town records from the 1960s and ’70s from deterioration.
The town council recently approved a budget transfer of $65,000 from the executive department for the record preservation.
“There is a significant list (of records) that are in danger of falling apart and these are mostly births and deaths and town council records that are used often and they are in danger of not being available,” said Town Administrator John Anderson.
The clerk’s office has used money from a grant and a previous town council appropriation for some preservation work, but Town Clerk Denise Neale said there is no longer grant money available.
The money for the record preservation comes from the fiscal year 2013 appropriation for union settlements. Anderson said there was $285,000 set aside in that line item, with only $52,000 used for that purpose.
While many of the older records have been restored or are in acceptable condition, town controller Janice Mobsby said there was a period in the 1960s and 1970s when the town did not use a proper process to preserve the papers.
“They are bound with a thread the old-fashioned way and we are opening the records and they are falling out,” said Neale.
State statute says the records must be bound and preserved in perpetuity, according to Mobsby.
Councilor Brad Benson supported the budget transfer for the record preservation, but said he was not happy that the issue had not previously been brought before the council.
Anderson said Neale had brought the item forward in a previous year’s budget, but he cut it from the budget before it reached the council.
“Preserving books and records is not a sexy thing to do, and we have the money now to do this,” said Anderson. “Certainly, I’ll take the fall for not presenting this through the budget process.”
Mobsby said it will cost about $2,000 per year to keep the record preservation up to date.