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County to overhaul phone system

February 07, 2001|By SCOTT BUTKI

County to overhaul phone system



The Washington County Commissions voted unanimously Tuesday to ask vendors to bid on a proposal to overhaul the county telephone system.

The cost for a new telecommunications system would be $624,000, which would include installation, voice mailboxes, call management software and possibly interest.

The request was made by the Washington County Telephone Steering Committee, which consists of county employees.

Unless the estimates are way out of line, the commissioners will approve funding the project in about two months after bids are received and a contract is awarded, County Administrator Rodney Shoop said.

The big question, whether to pay the full amount immediately or take a multi-year lease, won't need to be decided until the project reaches that point, Shoop said.

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Vendors will be asked to include bids for five- and seven-year leases, as well as a bid that reflects the price if full payment is made in the first year, he said.

Shoop said the hope is that bids will come in before the county adopts its budget, which they usually do in May. If not, the county might have to make budget adjustments.

The total cost for 10 years with the old system is about $2.1 million, compared to $1.7 million for the new system, according to committee member Greg Murray, the director of the county Water and Sewer Department.

Annual costs will also be less under the new system, he said.

The commissioners asked for more information after the committee made a report to the commissioners on Jan. 16. Among the requested information was an estimate of the cost and a determination of whether the Washington County Board of Education could be tied in to a new county system.

The School Board is interested at some future time in having a system similar to the one proposed for the county, but the cost has not been determined, Murray said.

All county department systems, except that of the Sheriff's Department patrol facility and detention center, are past the recommended 10-year life expectancy and cannot be networked, said committee Chairman Tom Evans, the technical support analyst for the Washington County Information Technologies department.

The system is at 90 percent to 100 percent of capacity, Evans said.

If upgrades are undertaken, the county could reduce monthly phone costs because it could drop the number of outside lines needed, Evans said. Currently, 40 percent of calls made within Washington County government are between departments, he said.

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