Saratoga Springs City Council OKs phone upgrades

A second attempt to push through a plan to upgrade the city's phone systems was met with success at the Saratoga Springs City Council meeting of Tuesday, Oct. 21, after it failed the previous week.

Commissioner of Public Works Anthony Scirocco reversed his vote, explaining that he had been worried about taking 2009's budgeted money from the police station's system, but has since been reassured that the proposal would address its needs.

Under Tuesday's approved amendments, $88,000 will be added to the current year's $170,000 budget item in order to complete upgrades to the city's phone system in one motion, thus eliminating a $150,000 item on the 2009 capital budget for a savings of about $70,000. The extra funds would come out of the city's debt service.

The sale price is being offered by Carousel Industries, which extended an Oct. 15 deadline for the discount. By upgrading now, nearly all city buildings would be included.

The city's current phone system dates back to 1992, and many aspects are not upgradable. Replacing old copper wiring with high speed lines and investing in new software and hardware with features like visual voicemail was promised to save time and headaches for city employees.

The Council failed to find the necessary four out of five votes at a Tuesday, Oct. 15, meeting, with Scirocco and Commissioner of Public Safety Ron Kim dissenting.

Kim again voted against the motion, citing concerns about the city's current economic position.

If we were in better times, I wouldn't have any problem supporting it, said Kim. "But we've been talking this entire night about problems we are having with the budget."

He went on to suggest that the project be scaled back to just include the police station.

"I believe we need to do what's necessary, not what's nice to do," said Kim. "I don't need a pretty phone on my desk."

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