SEC. 21-15-35. Preservation of essential public records of municipal governments.
The Legislature declares that records containing information essential to the operation of government and to the protection of the rights and interests of persons should be protected against the destructive effect of all forms of disaster, whether fire, flood, storm, earthquake, explosion or other, and whether such occurrence is caused by an act of nature or man, including an enemy of the United States. It is, therefore, necessary to adopt special provisions for the preservation of essential records of municipalities, and this section shall be liberally construed to effect its purposes. However, it is the express intention of this section that the provisions herein contained are not mandatory but are permissive only and shall authorize preservation of records as herein contemplated within the discretion of the governing authorities of the municipalities of the state and in accordance with a records control schedule approved by the Local Government Records Committee as provided in Section 25-60-1.
The governing authorities of any municipality within the state, regardless of the form of government under which they operate, are each hereby authorized and empowered in their discretion to make or cause to be made a copy or copies of the records of such municipality, or any portion thereof, deemed by such governing authority to be an essential record necessary to the operation of government in an emergency created by disaster or containing information necessary to protect the rights and interests of persons or to establish and affirm the powers and duties of government in the resumption of operations after the destruction or damage of the original records. Such copies shall be made in accordance with standards established by the Department of Archives and History.
The governing authorities of such municipalities are authorized and empowered in their discretion to make and enter into contracts and agreements with any person, firm or corporation to make and prepare such copy or copies of records, and to provide for and enter into contracts concerning the safekeeping and preservation of such copy or copies at points of storage approved by the Local Government Records Committee as required in Section 25-60-1, at a location other than the legally designated or customary location and deposit of the original of such records.
In the event that the original record or records shall have been destroyed, any such photographic or photostatic copy or reproduction shall be deemed to be an original record for all purposes and shall be treated as an original record in all courts or administrative agencies for the purpose of its admissibility in evidence. An enlargement or facsimile of such reproduction is likewise admissible in evidence if the original reproduction is in existence and available for inspection under direction of court.
The governing authorities of any municipality within the state, regardless of the form of government under which they operate, are authorized and empowered, in their discretion, to appropriate and expend monies out of the available funds of such municipality for the purposes of this section.
SOURCES: Codes, 1942, Sec. 2900.3; Laws, 1963, 1st Ex. Sess. ch. 11, Secs. 1-7, eff from and after passage (approved March 2, 1963). Laws, 1996, ch. 537, Sec. 11, eff from and after July 1, 1996