Years of stashing paper files away into filing cabinets, often used as end tables in the town office, and onto the entire second floor of a separate town building has prompted a push for the Middleburg town government to convert its records to an electronic format and crowd the cloud, not the council chambers.
The Town Council last Thursday voted unanimously to hire the MCCi records management firm for $30,805 to move the town away from paper files and implement a digital records management system that will feature the purchase of a Laserfiche Cloud system, also used by Loudoun County, to make electronic file sharing and uploading, viewing and modifying content easier for staffers. The town also will spend $47,000 to digitize its existing paper records and a few hundred dollars more to shred its outdated paper files.
The contract with MCCi will see the firm implement a system that will allow town staffers to retrieve digital documents at the stroke of a keyboard and the click of a mouse, rather than by sorting through hundreds of file drawers. Town Clerk Rhonda North said that implementing a system that can search through every word of digitized paper records would be a tremendous feature for staff.
Mayor Bridge Littleton said he was “really blown away” by the technology. “I think it’s going to be great for us and for the town,” he said.
For those services, the town will pay MCCi $20,785 in upfront costs and $10,020 annually, beginning this year.
As for converting existing, paper records into electronic format, the town will pay Scanning America $47,070 to scan the 225 boxes of paper records, or 495,000 pages, it has stored in boxes throughout the town office and crammed into an upstairs room in the building that houses the town’s fourth well off The Plains Road.
The town will also destroy the records it legally can, under the Virginia State Library’s Records Retention Schedule.
To do that, North said the town would pay a paper shredding truck about $500-$1,000 for a one-day visit—a visit that also would allow residents to shred their own paper files.
The combined $77,875 to hire MCCi and Scanning America will be pulled from the town’s fiscal year contingency reserves, which contains an unspent amount of $194,000.
North said the digitization effort would give the seven town staff members who have desks in the town office more room and would save the town money when moving into a new and larger town office in the coming years. An alternative was to build a 453-square-foot records storage room for $170,000 if the town had continued using paper.
North said that while the town will “never completely do away with paper,” its goal is to digitize as much of it as possible to prevent staff from taking time to digitize mass amounts of paper records moving forward.
The town also considered hiring Nexus Imaging for $24,387 to implement the digital system but opted to move forward with MCCi. Although MCCi quoted a higher cost, staff members said the firm would provide the town with more services in the long run.