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County’s new phone system may come with new employee

Despite projected annual savings of more than $130,000, a discussion about a new network to support the county’s computer and telephone systems was tabled when County-Owned Property Committee members realized a full-time employee was included in the proposal.
During the Oct. 3 meeting, Purchasing Director Willie Shrewsbury presented a recommendation for a computer and phone network that would allow all departments to be connected.
“We received the proposals in June and conducted site visits to review the systems,” Shrewsbury said. Rick Hawkins, Dean Royston and Wes Ford, of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, consulted on the project.
The joint recommendation proposes Bailey Computing supply the Cisco UC Solution for approximately $680,000.
“This is a state-of-the-art system used by approximately 80 percent of businesses,” Shrewsbury told committee members.
Advantages would include file sharing, a countywide email address, web filtering, and increased speed and security. File sharing would enable county officials to view the status of their budgets online rather than requesting printed reports from the Accounts and Budgets Office.
In addition, the monthly recurring cost would be reduced from the current $17,500 the county is paying for the CenturyLink Centrex Phone System to the estimated $6,670 the Cisco system would cost. With monthly savings of $11,000 or more, Shrewsbury said the county would receive its return on investment in less than six years.
The savings would come from reducing the number of outbound lines. Calls between departments would be made through the Internet portion of the network and be considered in-house, which would not require an outbound line.
Installation of the network would take between four to six months, and support and service from Bailey Computing would be included for the entire five-year term.
Chairman Mark Ferguson questioned the additional $50,000 included in the proposal for a new, full-time information technology employee. The employee would report to Shrewsbury, who said the position would serve all county departments.
“We don’t have an (information technology) position now. It would be for more than the phone system,” Shrewsbury said.
Commissioner Doyle Cloyd said a portion of the proposed savings are already being designated if the county adds another employee.
“I can see hiring someone for three to four months, but I don’t think a full-time person is necessary if Willie and Rick could do it,” Cloyd said.
Commissioner George “Skip” Oldham supported an additional employee. “That is a position that pays for itself rather than (paying) an hourly rate for someone to come in,” he said.
Ferguson wants to try using current employees first.
“I have reservations about hiring a full-time employee until we know we need (someone) full-time,” he said.
Commissioner Joe Sheffield made a motion to table the discussion for another month to provide time for further consideration and study. Cloyd seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
The county’s current contract has expired, and the county is operating on a month-to-month agreement with CenturyLink.