Denton County officials took steps Tuesday to shore up a compliance issue with their records management department.
In a 3-2 vote, commissioners decided to put Barbara Looper, aide to the court, in charge of records management at the start of the fiscal year and have her report to the Commissioners Court as a whole. However, some court members are still interested in putting care of all county records under one person.
“I think we’re making a mountain out of a molehill here,” County Judge Mary Horn said. “Let’s get compliant with state regulation and let’s look at bringing [the department] into the 21st century. That’s all I really want.”
Horn and Commissioner Ron Marchant voted against the action.
The compliance issue stretches back to 1991 when the court named former employee Jim Webb as records management officer. There was a resolution approved by the court then that called for a committee to be formed to come up with a records retention plan for the county as required by the state.
It was a great idea, Horn said, but it was never done.
While Teresa Rogers serves in the same capacity as Webb did, the title has changed and the record retention plans were never carried out, leaving the office out of compliance with state requirements.
“My primary objective is to get us in total compliance,” Horn said, adding that her other goal is to improve some of the ways document preservation is done.
“Both [District Clerk] Sherri Adelstein and [County Clerk] Cynthia Mitchell have taken great strides in that direction in a lot of different ways in their offices, and I want to pursue that for records management and will do so once we get into compliance,” Horn said.
In recent weeks, the court heard a proposal from Mitchell to place records management under her oversight, citing a host of problems within the department on Rogers’ watch.
After discussing the matter, commissioners opted to send out a survey to elected officials in the county to see whom they wanted to be in charge of their records. Some wanted the records handling to go unchanged, some were open to the idea of Mitchell taking over and some just didn’t care. The proposal has not been back before the court for a vote.
“I still think whomever the RMO [records management officer] is should report to one person. I said that before and I meant a court member. I didn’t mean aide to the court,” Horn said. “But if that is what the majority of court members want to do, so be it.”
Commissioner Hugh Coleman said the move to put the records management department under Looper will enable everyone to do a better job and ensure that records are properly taken care of.
“It takes the politics out of the situation and will generally make things better off for the citizens of Denton County,” he said.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is email@example.com .