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County hopes to connect with new phone system

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Bartholomew County officials are starting the search for a new phone system, which they estimate will cost more than $200,000.

The current phone system, in place for about 10 years, only is able to be serviced by a single vendor and parts are getting hard to find, said Jim Hartsook, the county’s information technology director. The county has about 344 telephone numbers on five independent phone switches, Hartsook said.

Commissioners and Hartsook agreed to begin putting off repairs on the aging system or purchasing new handsets so the county can set aside money for a new system — a process that could take two years. They plan to purchase a system that uses the Internet protocol for switching, rather than the older private branch exchange technology.

In several county buildings, the phone switching equipment takes up so much space in its closets that there is no room to expand. Switching to an IP phone system would alleviate that problem.

Hartsook said the existing phone system allowed the county to reduce its monthly phone bill from $12,000 a month to $3,000 a month and paid for itself in about 27 months.

In other business:

County Engineer Danny Hollander reported that the county will begin looking to replace the roof on the wooden bridge in Mill Race Park. The city parks department has contacted the county about damage to the structure’s wood shake shingle roof. The county has about $21,000 in its wooden bridge repair fund, and the Mill Race bridge is the only covered bridge in the county.

Commissioners appointed Paul Franke to serve on the Bartholomew County Jail Building Corp. board. The board oversees the repayment of the bonds for the county jail, and the maintenance fund for the jail. Franke, a former county commissioner, will replace Marvin Burbrink, who died last year.

Commissioners tabled the second approval for a discussion of new flood regulations, because Jeff Bergman, the city/county planning director, was absent.

The county personnel committee will meet Thursday during the County Commissioners work session and will discuss capping part-time workers hours at 25 per week. The meetings begin at 9 a.m. in the County Commissioners’ office, in the Governmental Office Building, 440 Third St. County Auditor Barb Hackman said she has asked the county attorney to determine whether the meeting should be open to the public or be held as an executive session to discuss personnel policy.

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