Benton Township to get new phone system, save $33,000 over five years

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP – Benton Township officials want to switch to a new phone system this summer.

The township had three options to consider: buy its current leased system for fair market value price, recast the lease with a new system called Mitel 5000 and buy new phone equipment for fire and water, or buy the Mitel 5000 system at fair market value price and the new phone equipment for fire and water.

The Benton Township Board of Trustees chose the latter of the three options. By doing so, the township will buy the new phone system outright with about a $20,000 up-front cost.

Superintendent Elden Piontek said the township was paying about $55,000 for the lease on its phone system over the last five years. Buying the system and avoiding monthly lease payments will save the township an estimated $33,000 over the next five years.

Piontek said the new phone system will do everything its current system does and then some.

“Now we will have intercom with the fire and water departments,” he said. “It’s an upgrade along with some savings. Kelli (Nelson) did an excellent job researching this.”

Nelson, a contracted township accountant, has spent the last few months working on a deal with First Telecommunications.

First Telecommunications is the company the township will buy its hardware and software from. AT&T will provide the phone service.

“We’ll save about $550 per month, which adds up to be quite a bit in five years,” Nelson said. “This purchase includes five years of software insurance, which means they will provide updates for at least five years.”

The township will have to cover an up-front cost for the system. However, by owning the system, the municipality saves money in interest costs, phone lines and software updates.

The current five-year lease expires this summer, Piontek said. Some installation was already signed for, but Piontek says it will take a couple months before the system is fully integrated.

The township will use money from its Equipment Replacement Fund. The $20,000 in up-front costs is broken down to about $17,000 in new equipment and $3,000 in installation fees.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@thehp.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on June 11, 2015)

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