Hearings questions, answers

David Barkemeyer
Milam County Judge

A number of questions were asked at public budget herings including “are there any plans to economize the phone system?” and “can we do things to economize on the use of electricity?”

Beginning in 2012, I have placed utilities and the phone line items together in a single departmental budget.

The breakdown by department will still exist, but the centralized management will hopefully make them easier to monitor and find ways to save money and become more efficient.

We have already consolidated our electrical usage down to a single provider through participation in the Public Power Pool.

This has allowed us to negotiate lower rates, currently costing the county about 6.8 cents per KWH and we hope to go even lower this next year.

We’re currently participating in an energy efficiency research study, performed by ClearResults. We have recently negotiated a contract for phones with Birch Communication which is designed to reduce our system costs significantly. We have found several phone accounts being billed that no longer existed or that never existed in the first place, resulting in a monthly savings of some $1,000 monthly. We are in the process of redoing our contracts with AT&T for local and long distance rates.

We were on a month-to-month rate of 10 cents per minute. As of Sept. 1, the new contract pricing will be set 25 cents per minute for long distance.

At our usage of approximately 10,000 minutes per month, this results in a savings of some $300 monthly.

All of these things take time and effort and attention to detail, but there is money to be saved and all of these savings add up to significant dollars.

We were asked if the county had a plan to curtail abuses of our phone services.

Separating personal use from work use is the responsibility of the individual. The county policy on these matters is pretty well defined in the Employee Manual and it is the individual’s responsibility to follow them. You may view these on the web site at

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2011-09-15 digital edition

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