City Council approves funds to digitalize records

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City Council approves funds to digitalize records
Boxes of municipal records line the basement of the Walker Building. (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

MARLBOROUGH – In the basement of the Walker Building, there are dozens of boxes from several municipal departments. The paper documents within the boxes represent years’ worth of transactions, memos and things that keep a city running.

The current storage system has several problems, including staff’s time and effort to physically retrieve records; the boxes are a fire hazard; and the possibility of damage from water or mold.

“They’re not in great shape at the Walker Building,” said Tin Htway, the city’s building commissioner and zoning enforcement officer.

Htway is among the administrators backing a proposal to have these records digitalized.

The Inspectional Services Department has requested $300,000 for the imaging and conversion of nearly 600 boxes of inspectional services records, assessor property record cards, and conservation/zoning records.

Once they are in a digital format, the records would be inputted into a database that would be accessible to staff, developers and residents.

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During the City Council’s Finance Committee meeting on Monday, April 29, Mayor J. Christian Dumais joined Htway in fielding questions about the proposal.

“With this effort, we will have all records digitized, filed and accessible for these requests,” said Dumais in a letter to the City Council. “In addition to public record requests, each respective department often refers to these documents for historical knowledge and information.”

Htway said that once the request has been approved, it would take about three months to complete the project.

“It gets us back into the 21st century,” said Councilor David Doucette.

The committee approved the request 5-0. The full council approved the request during its meeting on Monday, May 6.

Other capital requests

The Finance Committee and the City Council also approved requests from the Police and Fire departments, as well as the Department of Public Works.

The Police Department requested $321,983 to replace four cruisers, along with Tasers and bulletproof vests.

The Fire Department requested a total of $170,000 to replace its aging alerting system and radio boxes that monitor the fire alarm systems throughout the city.

The DPW requested $1.993 million to replace vehicles, including a John Deere tractor; several pickup trucks; and a mower.

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