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Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014

Root of expensive phone bills uncovered

Friday, March 14, 2008

Miner substation lines weren't disconnected when center closed; still in use

BENTON -- When Scott County officials shut down the E-911 substation in Miner in mid-December, they thought they would see an immediate drop in their phone bills.

But they haven't seen that decrease over the past two months, and met with AT&T representatives during Thursday's regular meeting to find out why.

"We keep getting our bills, but we're seeing no reduction," said Jamie Burger, presiding commissioner. "When we did away with the two Miner lines in December, we never saw the lines fall off of our bill."

He expressed concern the phone bill may exceed the county's already tight budget, for which phone service had lower projected expenditures due to fewer phone lines.

After reviewing phone lines with Terry McDermott, area manager-E911 Public Safety with AT&T Missouri, the source of the problem was found -- some Miner phone lines were not disconnected and still being charged to Scott County.

"Scott County should not be paying for those lines in Miner," said Burger.

McDermott volunteered to explain the situation to Miner. Commissioners also plan to negotiate reimbursement for the charges, said Dennis Ziegenhorn, commissioner.

"The lines are hooked into our phone system and we didn't know that they were still being used," said Janet Tuttle, city clerk.

She said she will present the issue and accrued costs to the Board of Alderman at their next meeting. Although she couldn't approve payment, Tuttle said the city would likely pay for its phone charges. "It's our bill, so legally we're responsible for it," she said.

While reviewing the phone bills, Jackie Barrett, communications consultant with AT&T, pointed out that most calls through the E-911 are long distance. "Perhaps there is a different plan that will fit your needs and be more cost-

efficient," she said.

Barrett said she will review the county's monthly usage and present a plan that could save the county some money.

Ziegenhorn said that's one positive thing that came out of the meeting. "I don't think anybody can look at those bills and try to save money without having some sort of assistance," he said. "We found a couple of things this morning that can save us some money -- things that we don't even need."

In other business, Joel Evans, county developer and emergency management director, informed commissioners that he plans to attend a NIMS class in Jefferson City to become a training class instructor. NIMS is the National Incident Management System, and training is required for elected officials as well as some county employees, such as police officers and dispatchers, said Commissioner Ron McCormick.

On-site training will also save the county money, pointed out Burger, because it will eliminate mileage costs for employees to be trained.

The highway department workers hours have changed, Ziegenhorn noted. Work hours are now 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

"People need to be aware that they're out there, for safety reasons," said Ziegenhorn.

The county's spring tire roundup is scheduled for April 5. People can drop off their used tires from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Highway Department office in Benton.