With a new decade's worth of records almost ready to be preserved, and no money available to preserve it, archive officials are hoping the Hawkins County Commission will make it an official county department by giving it a line item on the county budget.
On Monday, Deputy Archivist Martha Clark presented a budget request to the County Commission that would meet the state minimum requirement for the archive to be considered a county department by the state.
Clark also submitted a proposed resolution with a plan to generate funds to cover that $8,600 funding request.
The archive, located in a county-owned building on McKinney Avenue in Rogersville located across from Rogersville Middle School, is given $1,600 annually to cover the cost of utilities.
Clark's proposed resolution would add a $5 fee to the cost of marriage and business licenses, beer permits, notary applications and all records filed by the public in the clerk of court's office to cover the county's archive expenditure.
State law allows for counties to establish a fee so that when a citizen causes a public record to be created, that citizen pays a little extra to preserve that document.
"Most of the counties in the state have adopted this fee for funding their archives, and they have found it adequate to cover the cost of the archives,” Clark said.
She added, “We have created an award-winning archive, and it is used by the state as a model to establish county archives.”
Clark noted that the archive has attracted visitors from all lower 48 states, plus Hawaii, and is a major generator of tourism dollars for the county. But at some point in the future, it may have to hire a certified archivist if there are no volunteers.
Clark said, "Over the past 14 years, our volunteer base has gotten older and fewer in number. Where we started with most of our volunteers being in their late 60s, early 70s, now they're in their late 70s, early 80s. We need to take advantage of what's been created. What our resolution does is it takes our temporary status and makes us a permanent department."
On Monday, the Hawkins County Commission began three days of hearings for the 2018-19 fiscal year budget.
Budget Committee Chairman Stacy Vaughan noted that the commission couldn't take action on the proposed resolution, and it probably won't take action on the funding request until the rest of the departmental requests are heard.
Alana Roberts, county buildings manager, noted that in two years the archive will receive another decade's worth of records to begin preserving.
The resolution says funds generated by the new fees can be used for duplicating, storing and maintaining any records. Currently there is no county money in a budget to show “good faith” funding required by the state.
The $8,600 would show the state that the archive is a county department and opens it up for state grant eligibility.
Roberts said, “At this point, they haven't been able to apply for any grants for the simple reason we do not qualify because the county doesn't have a clear existing budget commitment and legislative appropriation. Nor do we have a careful development plan.”
The archive would be eligible for a $10,000 grant this year. Otherwise it won't be eligible for grant funding again until 2021.
In 2020, the archive gets another 10 years of records to preserve, and it doesn’t have the money for preservation supplies.
Clark said, “We have brought in enough money into this county over the past 14 years that we don't feel this is unreasonable.”