Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus and Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Robert G. Rolison have announced a plan to save nearly $2.4 million for county property taxpayers.
“We are tireless in our work to identify ways to work smarter and be more efficient. This new communications system will reduce annual operating costs by 54% and provide a critical productivity tool for our employees to better serve county residents accessing county services,” said County Executive Steinhaus. “This is part of our proven, ongoing strategy of having tools to deliver better customer service to our residents and reduce costs for property taxpayers.”
The new Unified Communications System (UCS) would replace the County’s current antiquated phone system with an Internet Protocol (IP) based system that leverages the County’s fiber optic network to merge computer data and voice services. Steinhaus noted, “County government has fewer county employees today than twenty four years ago in 1987, so it is always a priority to increase county employee productivity.” The new system will provide expanded capability and additional functions to enhance the efficiency of county employees including merging voicemail and email, telephone paging, improved audio conferencing, interactive voice response (IVR) that will make it easier for County residents to contact County offices and employees, and a framework for future video conferencing.
Timing has become critical to replace the existing antiquated phone system because vendor service support for its technology has become scarce as the communications industry moves to IP-based phone system. Phone problems with the current equipment can often take several days to correct as there are fewer qualified service people for the outdated equipment which results in lost worker productivity. Moreover, without the new system much of the County’s current telephone equipment would need to be replaced. This would require a wasteful stop gap expense of more than $1.5 million, with minimal benefit, and at the same time the County would continue to incur the high annual system operating costs of nearly $700,000 per year.
The annual operating costs of the new system would lower costs by an impressive 61% to $265,000 in the first year and an average 54% reduction over 10 years compared to current operating costs. Total “net” taxpayer savings will equal nearly $2.4 million over ten years.
“This is exactly the kind of cost efficiencies and taxpayer savings the GOP legislative leadership supports,” said Legislature Chairman Robert Rolison. “County government needs a reliable, efficient phone communications system to ensure critical support and services are delivered to our residents. When we can also provide nearly $2.4 million dollars in savings to our taxpayers, then we have a win-win proposal.”
Several surrounding counties have converted to IP-based phone system with impressive results. It has been reported Sullivan County has experienced a 57% reduction in annual operating costs.
The administration has a strong history of modernizing operations with Information Technology (IT) investments including the Financial Management System; as well as the Criminal Justice and Safety Computer System which have improved operational efficiencies within county government for organizations like the Sheriff, District Attorney and others.
The multi-million dollar savings plan will be discussed by the Dutchess County Legislature at the Legislature’s July 12th Board Meeting.