Autumn’s Local Public Records Questions – Retention

We received great public records questions from local governments this fall, and now share them for your benefit. This post concerns retention; the second post will concern questions about electronic records.

Captain Puss at Holden Beach

Courtesy of Harnett County Public Library.

Our town management donated a boat to a nonprofit organization, which now has title to the boat. Do we retain the paperwork on the boat and, if so, for how long?

It depends on the paperwork. Operation, specification and technical manuals, brochures, bulletins, and related documentation come under Standard-1, Item 29: Equipment and Vehicle Reference File, of the Municipal Records Retention and Disposition Schedule, and have a disposition of “Destroy in office when superseded or obsolete.” Since the town no longer owns the boat, these records are eligible for destruction.

Maintenance records fall under Standard-1, Item 30: Equipment Maintenance, Repair and Inspection Records. The paperwork that documents routine inspections, janitorial cleaning, and routine equipment maintenance can be destroyed after 1 year. Records of non-routine maintenance must be retained for the life of the equipment. Again, since the town no longer owns the boat, these records can be destroyed.

How long should our town retain employees’ time cards?

So long as they are not needed for employment verification for retirement or benefits, time cards and time sheets can be destroyed after 3 years, according to Standard-4, Item 54: Time Sheets, Cards, and Attendance Records, of the Municipal schedule, and Standard-4, Item 53, of the County Management Records Retention and Disposition Schedule. If your office transfers time cards and time sheets to the official personnel files, and they are not needed for employment verification, the time cards and time sheets can be purged from the personnel files after 3 years.