Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Allegany County Legislator Graves speaks out about new Central Phone System

July 12, 2016
Letter to the Editor
Re: New Central Phone System
            With all due respect to my colleague from District 3, Scott Burt, I respectfully disagree with his vote Monday, July 11th, 2016 on the new central phone system. As a former Mayor, Town Supervisor and as your Legislator, I base all of my votes on one primary criteria.  “If it is not broken, do not try to fix it.”
The County telephone system is broken and it cannot be fixed!  As a former county employee I am very familiar with the system and its limitations.  It is one step above the old rotary dial phones.  Its greatest advantage is that it has push buttons and, with some degree of technical expertise, is able to accept voice mail recordings.

Its central “brain” fills a room some would envy as a garage.  It is an energy hog.  The heat it puts off could heat a home.  Worse, the technology that supports it is considered archaic and cannot be replicated.  The vendor it comes from will no longer offer any service to support it.

In committee hearings, our IT supervisor Keith Hooker, was vetted by myself and several other legislators.  No one wanted to unnecessary replace this system.  Every scenario possible was discussed to try and prolong the systems lifetime.  The issue boiled down to a situation where, if the system is not replaced soon, very soon, all county operations could be adversely affected.  Our employees and the taxpaying public, depend on this system.  Both for routine and emergency communications.

I too would have preferred to put the purchase off, put it in the budget and replace it next year.  The Wheel of Fortune doesn’t always turn that way.  Murphy’s Law, which I think Mr. Burt is overlooking, says that “If it can go wrong, it will go wrong.”.  Thankfully, we have a “Rainy Day Fund” and have chosen to use it wisely.

In addition to the energy savings the county will incur, the cost to support this system will save the county approximately $20,000.00 per year and, in theory, should pay for itself over time.  The system is being purchased through the “State Bid” process so no vendor is profiting exorbitantly by this acquisition.  The plan is to install the system over a weekend so day to day county business should not be adversely affected. In addition to this, of its many new advantages, the new system will enable our security people to send out a mass message alerting our employees to the presence of an active shooter or other emergency situation in the county complex.  Not everyone is setting in front of a computer screen or watching their inbox for an email but everyone is close to a telephone.

I know Mr. Burt’s intentions are honorable.  I like and respect him. He would never seek to disrupt or hinder county business or its operations.  He realizes these are tough economic times and is only trying to economize.  Despite our best intentions, unfortunately, this is one problem that cannot be put off.

Sincerely yours,

Karl E. Graves

Legislator District 4 - Wellsville & Andover