[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Brookhaven 6-16-1987 by L.L. No. 7-1987. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of these rules and regulations is to provide guidelines for the care, custody, retention, disposition and accessibility of public records of the Town of Brookhaven.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- PUBLIC RECORDS
- Any book, paper, map, photograph, microphotograph or other information storage device, regardless of its physical form or characteristic, which is the property of the Town on which any entry has been made or is required to be made by law or which any officer or employee of said Town has received or is required to receive for filing.
- Any water district, sewage district, drainage district or other special district established by law for any purpose operating for and on behalf of the Town of Brookhaven and directly under its jurisdiction.
The Town Clerk shall have custody of all the records, books and papers of the Town. However, since official records of the Town of Brookhaven are so vast and since the efficient operation of the Town's daily business requires that official records be maintained in close proximity to where such daily business takes place and since § 146 of the Education Law authorizes the filing and storage of records in the buildings in which they are ordinarily used, the various department heads who have care and custody of official records shall:
It is the function of the Office of State History of the Department of Education to examine the condition of all official records of the counties, cities, towns and villages of the state and to advise and recommend to officials in those public offices having custody or control over the records as to making, managing, reproducing, preserving or disposing of those records in their custody or control.
The Town Clerk and all department heads having custody of official records shall store such records in fire-resisting receptacles made of noncombustible materials, and the Town Board shall decide whether facilities for the storage of Town records are adequate.
Records shall be systematically filed at all file stations having custody of official records in such a manner as to ensure speedy information retrieval. The Town Clerk will assist any department head who requests such assistance in developing an effective filing plan.
At each instance of removal of an official record from the files for a period of one day or longer, a charge-out card, with the name of the person taking custody of the record and the date, shall be placed in the file in the same space from which the record was removed.
The Freedom of Information Law, a New York State statute enacted by Chapters 578, 579 and 580 of the Laws of 1974, endows the people with the authority to inspect and receive copies of certain records possessed by local governments. As a consequence, the Town Clerk and department heads who have custody of official Town of Brookhaven records shall make available for public inspection:
Final opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions, as well as orders, made in the adjudication of cases, for example:
Statements of policy and interpretations which have been adopted by the Town and any statistical or factual tabulations which led to the formulation of the policy.
Minutes of meetings of the Town Board and of any public hearings.
Internal or external audits made by or for the Town.
Administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect members of the public.
An itemized record setting forth the name, address, title and salary of every officer or employee, compiled by the fiscal officer charged with preparing payrolls. Such records shall be made available for inspection to bona fide members of the news media upon written notice, on Form AC375, a copy of which is attached, in the office of the Town Comptroller during regular working hours.
Editor's Note: A copy of this form is on file in the office of the Town Clerk.
All books of minutes, entry or account and the books, bills, vouchers, checks, contracts or other papers connected with or used or filed in the office of or with any officer, board or commission acting for or on behalf of any town are declared to be public records and shall be open, subject to reasonable regulations to be prescribed by the officer having custody thereof, to the inspection of any taxpayer.
All department heads who have custody of official Town records shall prepare, maintain and make available for public inspection current lists, reasonably detailed by subject matter, of such records.
The law requires that each agency include in its regulations the persons from whom such records may be obtained. To identify such persons, department heads or their designees shall act as records access officers. Such officers shall ensure:
[Amended 12-19-2019 by L.L. No. 27-2019, effective 12-31-2019]
Public accessibility to records under the law during normal working hours.
Fees as established Town Board resolution shall be paid by the public when the Town of Brookhaven makes copies of records upon request:
Copies of records up to 8 1/2 inches by 14 inches.
Searching fees. In the event that the request for public records does not indicate such public records in the manner in which such records are maintained in accordance with the law and searching of subsidiary records is required in order to produce such public records.
The Freedom of Information Law provides for the exclusion of certain information from records which are made available by the statute in an effort to prevent any unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, such as:
Disclosure of personal matters reported to the Town in confidence which are not relevant or essential to the ordinary work of the Town.
Disclosure of an employment, vital statistics, medical or credit history or personal references of an applicant for employment, unless authorized by the applicant.
The sale or release of lists of names and addresses where it would be used for private, commercial or fund-raising purposes.
Information confidentially disclosed and maintained for the regulation of commercial enterprises, including licensing purposes, if such disclosure would permit an unfair advantage to competitors.
Information which is part of investigatory files compiled for law enforcement purposes.
There is no right to remove any record from the office of any Town department, nor may public inspection be exercised at a time and in a manner so as to interfere with the work of any Town office.
There comes a time when certain public records no longer have continuing administrative, legal, fiscal or historical value. The storage of such records beyond their authorized retention period in high-cost office space and filing equipment defeats one of the major objectives of an effective records management program. Section 63.10 of the Local Finance Law and Article XXIV of the State Comptroller's Regulations cover the cancellation and destruction of paid obligations. These include paid Town bonds, coupons and notes. This matter is under the jurisdiction of the State Comptroller, who issues periodic regulations concerning the disposition of such fiscal records. Section 65-b of the Public Officers Law covers the disposition of all other Town records. This section provides that any public officer may destroy, sell or otherwise dispose of any or all records kept by him, provided that he advises the Commissioner of Education of the record, certifying that such record no longer has sufficient administrative, fiscal or legal value to warrant its continued retention and that the disposition has been authorized by resolution of the Town Board and receives the consent of the Commissioner of Education for such disposition. The Office of State History has established a legal minimum retention period for Town records, and these have been described on local records disposition request lists.
When a department head determines to seek consent to dispose of records in his custody, he shall so advise the Town Clerk, describing the records and indicating their age. The Town Clerk shall:
Review the department head's request for disposition and, if valid, check such records, along with any request of the Town Clerk for disposition of his own records, on two copies of the disposition request lists, and sign the lists.
Obtain a resolution from the Town Board authorizing him to dispose of the record items on the request list being used.
Forward one certified copy of the Town Board resolution, together with two completed copies of the request list, to the Office of State History.
Receive the consent of the Commissioner of Education to the destruction, sale or other disposition of such records. Consent is not granted by the Commissioner of Education on a continuing basis, and each time it is desired to dispose of more recent records another application for consent must be made.
Dispose of the records in his custody as officially prescribed and/or advise department heads of such authorization for their action.