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New phone system moves forward for county offices

A second consideration of a new network to support the county’s computer and telephone systems met with success during the Jan. 2 meeting of the County-Owned Property Committee.
Discussion on the recommendation to accept Bailey Computing’s proposal to install a system using Cisco products was tabled last fall when committee members disagreed with the need to also add an information technology position to the county’s roster.
The recommendation came from an internal committee made up of Purchasing Director Willie Shrewsbury and the information technology team from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. Committee members from the WCSO are Rick Hawkins, Dean Royston and Wes Ford.
Following presentations from three companies and on-site visits to view similar installations, the internal committee was unanimous in its decision to recommend Bailey Computing and the Cisco system at a cost of approximately $680,000.
In addition to the contract with Bailey Computing, the recommendation included a $50,000 cost for a full-time IT employee who would report to Shrewsbury.
County-Owned Property Committee members were reluctant to approve an additional employee prior to the installation of the system and an evaluation of the need for such a position.
“Where are we on a full-time IT person to manage the system?” Chair Mark Ferguson asked during last week’s meeting.
“It’s not something we’re proposing at this time,” Mayor Dan Eldridge said. “We got the audit report over Christmas, and I want to spend some time studying their recommendations.”
The county is currently operating on a month-to-month agreement with CenturyLink following the expiration of its contract with Centrex.
Advantages of a network system include file sharing, a countywide email address, web filtering, and increased speed and security for county offices.
Bailey Computing also offers support around the clock.
“We are a 24x7x365 operation, so this is an advantage,” Hawkins said.
In addition, the agreement would provide four hours of service per week.
“It can go toward training or any other service they offer, including printer repair,” Shrewsbury said.
If the hours aren’t used one week, they roll forward to the next one.
The county also would see a savings in monthly recurring costs by reducing the number of outbound lines. Calls between departments would be made through the Internet portion of the network and be considered in-house and would not require an outbound line.
The financing structure is a tax-exempt state and municipal government lease with the title to the equipment passing to the lessee. This is a net lease under which the lessee pays all costs, including insurance, maintenance and taxes, for the terms of the lease. At the end of the lease term, the equipment can be purchased for $1.
“We’re not coming to you asking for new money,” Eldridge said. “We’re talking about financing for five years for a $1 buyout and saving more than $400 per month.”
Bailey Computing’s proposal also offered the lowest interest rate, 1.75 percent, for the leasing option.
Commissioner George “Skip” Oldham said some additional expense may be incurred at the end of the five-year agreement due to changes in technology.
Commissioner Doyle Cloyd made a motion to recommend the Bailey Computing proposal to the Budget Committee, as a matter of following process even though no new money is being requested. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Joe Sheffield and passed unanimously.