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Bids may be sought before phone upgrade

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Current system is 10 years old; support may soon be lacking

By J.R. Williams-jrwilliams@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- Officials will explore whether to seek competitive bids to upgrade the city's phone system before agreeing to work with a current vendor.

According to Public Utilities Director Perry Eisenach, the current phone system, which is about 10 years old, will no longer be supported by the vendor.

"That doesn't mean that the phone system is going to stop working, but certainly there is a potential for problems if they don't support that system," he said during a City Council work session Tuesday night.

The upgrades, which would largely center on software, would allow for the interactivity of Rouss City Hall, the Timbrook Public Safety Center, City Yards and the Parks and Recreation Department, he said.

Additionally, many would have direct-dial numbers allowing for more convenient access by the public to city staff.

If the changes are made now, the cost would be about $39,000, Eisenach said. After April 15, the cost jumps to about $59,000, he said. Improvements in efficiency are expected to provide a $500 per month savings to the city.

Some council members requested city officials look into whether other vendors could provide a better deal before making a decision. City Manager Jim O'Connor said he would provide an update at the next City Council meeting.

In other business, the City Council:

• Considered reducing the penalty for skateboarding on the Loudoun Street Pedestrian Mall to reduce local costs and comply with state code.

Currently, riding a board on the mall is a criminal offense -- a Class 4 misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $250. That equates to about a $110 cost to the local juvenile court for each charge to appoint a counsel for the accused, which is passed on to the city, according to Commonwealth's Attorney Alexander R. Iden.

But state code only allows the city to punish skateboarding as a civil offense with a fee ceiling of $50. Changing the classification would eliminate the need for court-appointed counsel and the associated costs.

A proposed amendment to city code discussed Tuesday would make the change, and council members voted to forward it to their next meeting.

• Forwarded a resolution to adjust the personal property tax relief rate from 65 percent to 72 percent of the tax levied on qualified vehicles.

• Forwarded a resolution to authorize the Police Department to accept an annual Department of Motor Vehicles grant.

The Police Department was awarded $32,800, according to a memo from Chief Kevin Sanzenbacher.

A 20 percent local match would be paid with current operating funds. The grant will be used to fund overtime for sobriety and safety checkpoints.

• Forwarded a resolution to prohibit trash trucks from operating between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. in residential- or commercially zoned areas.

Council President Jeffrey Buettner was absent from the meeting.

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