Gate City officials say they now have a better handle on exactly what documents are missing from the city building.

In a written response to an open records request filed by The Independent this week for the destruction certificates of missing records, city officials responded that they had only a blank copy of such certificates to use for future documentation.

A destruction certificate is a form required by the state Department for Libraries and Archives for documenting city records that are both properly and improperly destroyed.

“We are unable to locate any other destruction certificates that have been completed for actual destruction purposes,” wrote City Clerk Susan Harper Spencer.

Among the documents verified as missing by the state Department for Libraries and Archives were financial records from 2005, including bank statements, bank deposit books, accounts payable, accounts receivable and some invoices for the bank accounts utilized by the city on a daily basis. The listed documents are required by state records retention schedules to be maintained for three years.

Also missing are a number of the city’s audits. “We currently possess on premise audits from 1991, 2003 and 2005 through the current audit for fiscal year 2007-2008, which is currently in progress,” Spencer wrote. “We have contacted our independent auditor requesting the remaining audits that they have in their possession. They should be on our premise in a timely manner.”

Policy manuals for the city’s street, sewer and general office are also missing and employee personnel files for those departments were also found to be incomplete, according to Spencer. Employee personnel files are required to be maintained by the city for 70 years.

Spencer said some documents previously believed missing were located on a return visit of state libraries and archives personnel. Among them “were some employment policies passed by ordinance that were located in the ordinance book,” she wrote.

According to City Attorney Jeremy Clark, the city also has documentation on site of all of its ordinances, resolutions, executive orders, contracts, leases and bonds. “We have a whole, whole lot more than we don’t have,” he said.

Also included in the response were a number of letters between Clark and the head of the department for libraries and archives, Jerry W. Carlton.

In a letter written to Carlton on Aug. 28 Clark outlines the steps the city has taken to locate the documents, which he wrote “were last in the possession of our former Clerk Pauline Hunt.”

Among officials Clark said he contacted in regards to the missing documents were the executive director of the state Technology and Audits Office, Brian Lycans, as well as Amy Bensenhaver, an attorney with the attorney general’s office. Both officials, Clark wrote, informed him that because all the city’s previous audits revealed a good report and all the information needed to perform the current fiscal year audit were in the city’s possession, no special audit needed to be performed.

Carlton had previously stated in a letter to the city dated Aug. 11 that his department believed a special audit should be conducted.

Clark also wrote that “The city has done everything within its power to locate the records and unfortunately we will be unable to comply with an open records request if they are made regarding these records.”

The city has not conducted a formal investigation into what happened to the missing records despite a call for one by Spencer and a number of Catlettsburg residents.

CARRIE KIRSCHNER can be reached at ckirschner@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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