Southern Shores seeks answer to overflowing file room

Published 4:27 pm Friday, January 26, 2024

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The file room at the Southern Shores Town Hall building is beyond capacity. According to deputy town manager Wes Haskett, some shelves are so full that once a file is removed, it’s practically impossible to return it to its place.

Town staff and council members discussed options on how to remedy the situation. A budget amendment in the amount of $82,667 was presented for an addition to the file room, but the amendment was ultimately tabled.

Haskett said that to his knowledge the town has never purged any permitting records, and still retains everything that has been submitted.

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Mayor Pro Tem Matt Neal, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Mayor Elizabeth Morey, asked town manager Cliff Ogburn about the possibility of digitizing records instead of creating more space for physical records.

“I think it’s an invaluable resource for property owners to come in and see the original plans from 1960s or 1950s and all the original permitting documents,” Haskett said. “Yes, it could be digitized, but a lot of the folks that come in and request these copies are folks who probably don’t know how to go online and download or access these documents.”

Ogburn said the process of digitizing records would require hiring a contractor, and he didn’t know the cost.

Recently elected council member Robert Neilson said that digitization is “absolutely essential long term.”

Neal mentioned the possibility of delaying the budget amendment and the addition for the purpose of looking at future improvements to Town Hall, and whether those improvements could be combined with a records room addition; thereby saving the town money on the total projects.

Haskett agreed that the town could wait a few months to research the costs of digitization, as well as research the cost of an addition now versus an addition in combination with a renovation of Town Hall.