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County looks to phone system for cost reductions

Joshua Sebold
Staff Writer
7/7/2010

    The Board of Supervisors approved Information Systems Manager Dave Preston’s plan to comb the county phone system for potentially unused or redundant lines at the June budget meeting.  

  Preston said he had made cuts in various line items to save a telecommunications support technician position, but could only find immediate funding for three-fifths of a full-time position that was staffed at four-fifths.

    Preston said the county had 393 landlines and an annual phone bill of $134,000.

 

    He suggested the board allow him to search actively for inefficiencies in the system and point them out to the relevant departments; he could find enough savings to pay for the extra .2 of his phone tech position, keeping it at four-fifths of full time, with savings to spare.

    He predicted the county could save $30,000 – $60,000 per year by following this strategy.

    He explained the .8 position cost $50,000 total, and he only needed the board to spot him .2 in hopes he would come up with the savings.

    Indian Valley and Feather River Canyon supervisor Robert Meacher asked the department head how confident he was that the savings would materialize.

    Preston said he would be able to show the board by mid-year that the plan was working. If not, supervisors could then reduce the phone tech position.

    Quincy supervisor Lori Simpson asked if it would be cheaper to just put all county employees on cell phones.

    Preston said he didn’t think there was sufficient infrastructure in the county to do that.

    Later in the meeting, Veterans Service Officer Sheryl Austin agreed, telling the board she barely got any cell service in her office.

    East Quincy and Graeagle supervisor Ole Olsen asked her why she had a cell phone if that was the case and she responded that it worked everywhere else.

    Back at his presentation, Preston told the board he eliminated $10,000 in unused phone lines the year before.

    He said that was when department heads asked him to look for savings, and if the board gave him authorization to be more proactive in finding them, the savings would go up.

    Simpson like that idea, “I would really like you to look at eliminating some of these phone lines. That’s ridiculous.

    “If you have a pool of people and they each have a phone on their desk that’s taxpayer waste. They can just have one phone and all use it.

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