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Council looks to cut cost of phone service

The city of Cairo is looking to save big on its telephone service by going to its CNS “Voice over Internet” protocol (VOIP) system.
Currently, the city spends about $38,000 annually for telephone services from Windstream. City Manager Chris Addleton recommended to the council to switch from the telephone company to the CNS VOIP service.
According to the city manager, the initial first year cost will be $10,300, and then approximately $9,000 annually thereafter. The annual cost to operate the VOIP system will be paid to the city of Thomasville and an intergovernmental contract was presented to the council for its approval Monday night.
The city manager also recommended the council purchase new phones and related hardware from Blough Tech at a cost, including installation, of $33,675.
The council had budgeted $50,000 for replacement of the telephone system.
“This project will have a 1.2 year payback, which is really good,” Addleton told councilmen.
Paul Blough of Blough Tech appeared before the council to demonstrate and explain the advantages and capabilities of the new system. Blough also serves as the city’s IT administrator and has installed similar phone systems in commercial businesses across south Georgia and north Florida, as well as the city of Bainbridge.
“The phone system you have now is out-of-date. We’ve experienced some hardware failures and you really cannot do anything about it. The system needs to be replaced,” Blough said.
Blough told city officials that it would be possible to run both systems simultaneously to ensure all bugs are worked out before switching over to the new system completely.
Addleton says it will take about 60 days to get the system installed and operational, and he expects to go operational with the new system by the end of January, 2011.
The switch to VOIP will not change any of the city’s phone numbers, according to the city manager.
The vote to make the switch to the new system and enter into an agreement with Thomasville Utilities passed unanimously, but the vote to purchase the new hardware from Blough Tech passed 3 to 1 with Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas voting against.
Douglas said he voted against the motion because the city did not solicit bids for hardware from any other vendors.
“The bottom line is Paul (Blough) is the most experienced, he is our IT administrator, and he is local and accessible. That is why I recommended we go with Blough Tech,” City Manager Addleton said Tuesday.
In other business Monday night, the council:
Met with Bryant King of DRMP Consulting Engineers to review options for storm water improvements at Davis Park. No decisions were made other than to agree to schedule a meeting for the council and its consultants to meet at Davis Park as a group.
Approved the sale of some excess electric power to the Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission for a period of 12 months.
Heard an update from City Manager Addleton on the new elevated water tank to be constructed near Washington Middle School. The city manager says a notice to proceed was given to the contract Nov. 1. The vendor anticipates beginning work in February, with completion in September. Addleton is hopeful work will begin sooner, but noted it would take six months to complete. The contract gives the vendor 12 months to complete the work.

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