Oxford to go digital

OXFORD - The city of Oxford wants to get rid of excess paperwork and old-fashioned recordkeeping.

"I don't know if we've ever thrown anything away," Mayor Jerry Roseberry said during the monthly Oxford City Council meeting. "Oxford has never had a formal way of deciding what records to keep. All we've done is keep buying file cabinets and buying file cabinets, and each one costs about $1,200."

Soon, he said that will be a thing of the past for the city.

The city is looking into costs for digital record archiving and record retention to comply with state law - and make everyone's job a little easier.

He said when document requests come into City Hall, sometimes workers will spend hours looking through old records in the attic.

With digital archiving, "instead of spending hours to look for something, it will now take a matter of minutes," Roseberry said.

It will cut down on the amount of paper the city has to store in a variety of places and bring the city up to more modern times and in line with other cities in Georgia.

Although Oxford hasn't made any final purchases yet, Roseberry estimates the start-up costs to be about $15,000, plus an annual cost of about $1,800.

"I think that's very reasonable," Roseberry said. "This is something we'll use year after year."

Once the city acquires the needed software programs and equipment to start the process of digital archiving, Roseberry said complete archiving of the city's current documents will take "months and months."

He said City Hall personnel will spend a little time every day organizing and scanning in documents and any extra time they have during the regular work week.

"We've already started going through some documents at City Hall; we have to index the data," said Lauran Willis, administrative clerk for the city.

She said once the archiving is complete, the city will still keep hard copies of some items, but not every document, as it does now.

"That would defeat the purpose" of digital archiving, she said.

The service also will be used to preserve historic city documents, Roseberry said.

Digital archiving is not the only way the city is moving toward more electronic operations.

The City Council unanimously approved the purchase of a laptop for city Supervisor Jody Reid. The city plans to buy him a computer that will withstand weather and harsh conditions, called a Toughbook, not to exceed the cost of $2,600.

"We're trying to make him a more efficient and better manager," Roseberry said. "He's willing to learn and do it on his own time."

Roseberry said Reid will use a laptop in the field to locate water line breaks and also allow for inventory control and staff training, among other tasks.

Roseberry said the city already has some software programs for him to use and may look at purchasing more in the future.

Councilman Hoyt Oliver suggested to fellow council members at the monthly meeting that in light of more computer usage among city employees that the city update its computer use policy to say that city computers may not be used for personal use, as well as look at including a section discussing inappropriate use of city computers.

The council members plan to discuss the issue at the next work session, scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday.

In other news, the council approved an annual contract with Oxford College student Michael Dale to maintain and host the city's Web site, www.oxfordgeorgia.org, at a monthly cost of $125. This price includes four hours of editing and maintenance for the site as well as daily backups and software upgrades. Dale would be paid $25 per hour for any time requested by the city over that contracted rate.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.