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County trying to save money on phone service with audit

COVINGTON - Newton County is looking to save money on telecommunications services.

Commissioners recently agreed to hire Abilita, a telecommunications consulting company, to conduct an audit of phone and pager bills to make sure the county is getting what it's paying for, said Information Systems Director Tim McCart.

For example, Abilita will look for phone lines that have been disconnected but the county is still being charged for, McCart said.

They will also determine ways the county can save money, such as changing vendors. Abilita has no affiliation with any service providers, McCart said.

"They are vendor agnostic. They recommend a vendor based on the service," he said.

There is no charge for the audit, and the county is not required to implement any of Abilita's recommendations for cost savings. However, if they are implemented, Abilita would be paid 50 percent of the annual savings for two years.

"It's almost a no-lose situation," McCart said.

The county pays about $300,000 per year for telecommunications services, according to Administrative Assistant John Middleton.

The county uses five or six different vendors for telephone, cell phone and pager services, Middleton said.

Commissioner Mort Ewing said about five different vendors are used at the 911 Center alone.

McCart said the 911 Center will not fall under Abilita's project because it is also funded by the city of Covington and the county cannot make decisions about service there without the city's approval.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.