By MorinvilleNews.com Staff
Morinville – The town office and some of Morinville’s outlying facilities will be getting a new $200,000 state-of-the-art telephone system after council voted 6-1 in favour of the proposal at its June 22 regular meeting.
The town currently uses a Meridian NorStar system that was already decade-old technology when it was installed in the central office system in the 1990s. A similar system was installed in the public works building in 2007.
Administration had budgeted $16,500 to replace the town’s current phone system in the 2010-2011 budget; however, in investigating their options they came to the conclusion that new technology offered a better solution to the town’s overall needs.
Although the current system allows for multiple users, administration felt that many features made available by Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technology are not available in current NorStar units. With the need to link the Community Cultural Centre into Morinville’s phone system when the facility opens in 2011, it was felt that VOIP may be the way to go.
Council heard that the VOIP system would allow town staff to have direct phone lines, reducing the number of calls that need to be routed through the switchboard. Additionally, the use of VOIP technology would allow the town to eliminate the five fax lines it currently uses at a cost of approximately $500 per month, and would allow the Community Cultural Centre and Public Works facilities to have telephones without the need to have separate phone lines, an anticipated savings of $650 per month.
Administration proposed that the estimated $199,500 capital cost be amortized over a ten-year period at $19,950 per year. As administration estimates an annual savings of $14,400 per year by switching to the VOIP system, the actual budgetary impact would be $5,550 per year.
But while administration’s proposal met with the approval of the majority of council, Councillor Ben Van De Walle cast the sole opposing vote, hoping council would take a closer look into the technology since administration had only approached one vendor.
“It’s technology, and with a multi-vendor environment, a lot of it is software driven,” Van De Walle said. “So compatibility across vendors, standards and integration, interoperability are just some of the risk there, and a technology plan to meet the needs of the organization is something that we’ve not done yet. It’s on our to-do list.”