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APRIL 2001Volume 3 Number 2

New Historic Preservation Grant Program

Eunice G. DiBella, Public Records Administrator

On May 26, 2000, Governor John Rowland signed Public Act 00-146, "An Act Concerning Real Estate Filings and the Preservation of Historic Documents," into law. This legislation, which took effect July 1, 2000, establishes an "historic documents preservation account" for the "preservation and management of historic documents." The legislation charges the Public Records Administrator with the responsibility of administering a grant program to help municipalities to enhance or improve the preservation and management of historic documents.

This is the most significant piece of legislation that has been passed to support the preservation of the historic documents of the State of Connecticut and its citizens. It came about as a result of a great many individuals who worked towards this goal. We were fortunate to have two legislators, Former State Senator Thomas F. Upson and State Representative Steve Fontana, who were committed to seeing this bill passed. The effort and support of the Connecticut Society of Professional Genealogists, and Connecticut Town Clerks Association must also be acknowledged.

As part of this legislation, a fee of $3.00 has been added to documents that are recorded on the land records. One dollar is retained by the town for preservation activities. Two dollars are sent to the State Library. The two dollars are divided into two accounts. Seventy percent of the money is allocated for a grant program for the preservation of local government records, and thirty percent of the money is retained by the State Library for the cost of administering the program and for preservation of the State Library's historical records.

Based upon projections, we estimate that a total of 1.2 million dollars will be in the fund at the end of this fiscal year. That means that about $800,000 will be available for grants to municipalities. All monies collected by the State Library as part of this program go into a non-lapsing, interest bearing account.

The legislation directs the State Librarian to set up an advisory committee comprised of representatives of small, medium and large towns from all geographic regions of the state. The primary representation is from the town clerk community, but the State Librarian has asked key staff of the State Library, including the Public Records Administrator, to sit on the committee. The advisory committee meets on a bi-monthly basis. This committee has worked with the State Librarian and the Public Records Administrator to develop the grant criteria for the first year of the program. In the future, the committee will advise the State Librarian in adopting formal regulations to administer the program.

The Connecticut State Library, Office of the Public Records Administrator issued a pamphlet on February 1, 2001, that describes this program and includes a grant application. The pamphlet was distributed to town clerks and the administrative heads of the 169 municipalities in Connecticut. The law authorizes the chief executive officer of the municipality to serve as the applicant or to designate the town clerk of the municipality as the agent to make the application.

PA 00-146 authorizes two granting cycles per fiscal year. The first is on or before July thirty-first, and the second is on or before December thirty-first of each fiscal year in which payment is made. That means for the fiscal year of 2002, we will award grants in July and December of 2001. The first two grant cycles are targeted for paper preservation and preservation planning surveys. We have also put aside a portion of the money for emergency disaster recovery assistance. The pamphlet and application materials are also available online.

For additional information about the Historic Documents Preservation Account contact Eunice G. DiBella, Public Records Administrator, or see information posted on the Internet.

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