Council approves upgraded system for new city hall

Stephanie Myers-News-Herald

Lenoir City Council approved Monday an update to its communication systems as more government offices prepare to move to the new city hall building on Highway 321.

With the switch to Charter Communications, Lenoir City will initially save over $1,000 monthly while using up-to-date technology, according to city information technologist Richard Proffitt of PAR I, Inc. The savings will increase after all offices make the move to the SunTrust Bank building at 530 U.S. Highway 321, and services are no longer needed at the current office on East Broadway Street. The proposed cost, which includes a contract with Charter and PAR I, Inc., is $2,145 a month. The current monthly cost under EarthLink and Charter is $3,200.

"As we transition to the SunTrust building we will simultaneously increase the quality of service while substantially reducing the price. It's substantial savings," City Administrator Dale Hurst said.Proffitt said the new service will add versatility to office work.

"These phones are capable of plug-and-play outside the SunTrust building," Proffitt said. "For example, in emergency management meetings, if both the chiefs needed to go down to the 911 center all they need to do is just pick up their phone off of their desk and take it down to the 911 center. All they need is an Ethernet connection. It's like they're sitting at their desk basically."

The switch comes with a price tag. The upgraded equipment that is compatible with the new communication service is estimated to cost over $19,000.
"Charter is the only one that provides the bandwidth that will allow all of the departments under one roof to be able to suffice the telecom and the infrastructure that we're talking about computers, phone systems and, down the road, maybe even surveillance cameras and things like that," Proffitt said.
He told council it is a much-needed switch.
"It's almost like a house that you start building and you've got it all built and your small family lives in it, but then you decide that you want to bring in more family and the next thing you know this inch-and-a-half pipe that has water going through it is not sufficient for as big a family that you've got. That's basically what you were doing," he said.

"You were taking all those departments that are out there parks and rec, the fire department and eventually city hall as you see it today will all be in the SunTrust building," he said. "An inch-and-a-half pipe just does not provide the bandwidth that is needed for that."
Proffitt said all existing phone numbers will be maintained in the new system.

Council approved Charter Communications as the communications source for the next three years and OK'd going to bid on telephone hardware/equipment. Council also approved negotiating the Charter equipment installation contract to not exceed $3,500.

Every department will move to the new location with the exception of the fire department. Fire Chief Richard Martin and Deputy Chief Tony Brock will be the only members of the fire department moving. Lenoir City Police Department has already moved from 260 South Grand St.