DeKalb to install phone system

By Dan Jacobson

DeKalb city offices will be installing a new phone system based on a proposal from the city manager.

The DeKalb City Council adopted the recommendation of Bill Nicklas, DeKalb city manager, to go with GTE’s “centrex” system known as CentraNet. The system will be controlled from GTE’s central switching station on Locust Street.

The need for a new system came when the current system broke down leaving the city offices without phone service for several hours. The council and the city manager decided against replacing the system with a duplicate of the old, a PBX switch gear.

“As reported at the regular city council meeting of Aug. 9, it is very clear that the PBX switch gear which has served the city in recent years needs to be replaced,” Nicklas said. “In fact, for almost one month, its guts have been borrowed from a castoff system loaned to the city by DeKalb county.”

The council authorized Nicklas’s staff to negotiate terms for a new system with GTE officials at the Aug. 9 meeting of the council, Nicklas said. The negotiations produced two basic phone systems. The discarded option was a new PBX switch gear.

Cameron Davis, administrative assistant of public works, said this consists of a closed hardware system which is located at the municipal building.

The PBX system left the city responsible for all maintenance costs, upgrades and expansions.

“With a CentraNet system, the phone company is responsible for all system repairs at any time of the day, every day of the year, at a set monthly rate for the life of the contract (seven years),” Nicklas said.

“Over the seven years of the proposed contract, the likely maintenance costs associated with a PBX system would exceed the expected costs associated with the CentraNet system,” he said.

Nicklas said another benefit of the CentraNet system is it will be possible to network the computers of all the city offices over the phone lines.

“Such a provision,” he said, “would reduce our costs in completing the networking of computers in buildings which have not been ‘hard-wired’ to the network server. In fact, all city computer locations could be networked more economically through a ‘data-line’ system. Resource Bank has recently installed such a system and is very pleased with the results.”

The CentraNet system has a one-time installation cost of $96,090 which is more than $70,000 less than a new PBX system. Nicklas has proposed $42,000 will come from the Capital Projects Fund, an account for computer updating and replacement.

The remaining $54,090 can be taken from the Tax Increment Finance Fund, funds annually held for projects which have not been identified during the budget process.

“Over the proposed seven year term of the contract, the CentraNet system would cost as much as a PBX system, but would provide the stability and flexibility our organization needs without the maintenance headaches and indeterminate costs,” Nicklas said.