Clarkdale AZ (August 23, 2017) – In a move to enhance customer service, the Clarkdale Community Development Department recently completed the conversion of all paper permanent property files to digital records. This process took approximately nine months and converted five four-drawer filing cabinets of paper files to 2,764 digital records.
The permanent property files contain development records on properties within the Town of Clarkdale. Some records go back as far as the 1950’s. Per Arizona law, the Town is required to permanently maintain records of development on properties. Property files include information such as new construction details, remodels, fences, roof replacements and solar installations. Files also contain information regarding any code enforcement issues or special entitlements on the property.
The majority of time spent on this project was in prepping the files for scanning. Thousands of staples had to be removed and darkened copies made of any documents too light to scan. Once the digitization process was complete, the file cabinets were relocated to the records room of the Town of Clarkdale.
Files were scanned by parcel number, the unique identifier for each property within the Town boundaries. Having the electronic copies of files allows staff to quickly review the documents in a permanent property folder and send any requested information via email. Records may be easily printed and provided to customers at the Community Development front desk.
I completely understand the convenience of having permanent records scanned into a database. Unfortunately, the ‘permanent’ records, per the article also contain “..information regarding any code enforcement issues..” Code enforcement records are NOT permanent records. Therefore, it feels like an overreach to retain this information long-term. What is the need to do this? Perhaps to hold it against a property owner, i.e. “10 years ago there was a complaint against your property that was resolved, but now it has happened again so we are going to fine you…” It is against the law to retain records longer than the State-approved retention period, perhaps the Town should be fined.