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Thursday, September 29, 2016

State Comptrollers office and MTAS agree removal of items by Hill from personnel file wrong

The State of Tennessee Comptroller's office open records counsel has weighed in on the actions of interim city manager Steve Hill concerning the removal of items from his own city of Crossville personnel file.

Interim city manager Steve Hill

After the incident that reportedly occurred on August 30 when manager Hill ordered city HR administrator Leah Crockett to remove several disciplinary items from his file that were placed there during his time as director of parks and recreation and give them to him. The Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) was contacted about several aspects of the action as the files are considered public records.

MTAS consultant Elisha Hodge who previously served as the state's open records counsel wrote to the city records custodian, city clerk Sally Oglesby, “I do not advise that any disciplinary record be removed from a personnel file or destroyed until such time as the records retention schedule calls for the destruction of the record. I agree, there might be some additional documentation that needs to be attached to the discipline once it expires or if it is rescinded, but I do not think that the original discipline needs to be removed or destroyed until the retention period runs,” she concluded.

The current comptrollers office open records counsel Ann Butterworth wrote to Oglesby in an email saying, “I reviewed the advice given by MTAS regarding the oral reprimands in an employee file. It appears to be that the city policy only directs where the record is to be stored and not when it is to be destroyed. I am assuming the reference is to a written or recorded record of an oral reprimand. Since the city has not adopted separate retention schedules the city needs to comply with MTAS recommended schedules.”

The MTAS schedule K-35 indicates that personnel files should be retained for 7 years post termination.

Based on earlier information, city attorney Will Ridley previously advised Mr. Hill to return the removed documents to his personnel file. When checked last week, the documents had not yet been returned to the file.

It is unclear what, if any repercussions may come from Hill's actions.

Previous articles:
MTAS recommends changes to personnel file oversight and document retention in light of recent events

Items removed by order of interim city manager Steve Hill from his own personnel file called into question

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