EL CENTRO – Chuck Storey, Imperial County Clerk-Recorder approached the board with a proposal for BMI Imaging Systems, Inc to transfer all county documents dating back to incorporation in 1907. According to Storey, every document would be assessable within minutes once BMI has finished transferring everything to microfilm.
Storey began by displaying a tattered worn book that currently holds original documents. He then showed the 21st version, constructed of metal, covered in leat her and embossed in gold lettering that could hold all county documents. The only setback would be the $9 million cost, the documents would not be preserved permanently, and therefore the county would still be out of compliance with the state law to permanently preserve all documents.
“After two years of research, some of my staff and myself visited San Diego County who has used BMI and we were very impressed with the preservation of all their documents and how anyone can hop on one of their designated computers and find the documents they need,” Storey said.
Many of the county’s documents have been stored at the county jail in less than ideal conditions. Evidence of rat and humidity damage showed in many files and folders. Storey said that BMI can use ‘gray scale’ that will even take a faint pencil mark and make it crisp and readable.
Another mandate by the state is to redact all social security numbers from documents starting at 1980. The county has been making slow progress, whereas BMI is able to do that as it puts the document on microfilm.
Storey chose microfilm over digital images for security purposes. If anyone messes with microfilm it is immediately obvious, but with today’s computers, digital images can easily be manipulated but not necessarily easily detected.
The film will be stored in an environmentally controlled storage room in Sacramento with the county having duplicates for their needs.
While the transfer is occurring, Storey told the board that any documents requested by the public will be overnighted and be available the next day.
“This will put the entire recorded history of the Imperial County in a safe permanent record,” Storey said. As for BMI, he said, “Nobody provides anything else like this. Nobody.”
As opposed to the $9 million for fancy new binders, putting all on microfilm will cost the county $380,000. An additional cost of $20,000 a year will be charged for climate controlled storage.
The money comes from within the Clerks office of trust money and dues paid for copies of county documents.
Supervisor Ray Castillo asked if his mother’s birth certificate from 1904 would be available once the process was finished. Storey told Castillo that he would have to travel to San Diego for those documents as Imperial County was still a part of San Diego County back then.