County officials hear VoIP phone system presentations

REED CITY — Osceola County Commissioners have a lot of information to digest before they can make a decision on selecting a company to set up and provide a Voice over Internet Protocol phone system.

At the Jan. 17 Committee of the Whole meeting, Information Technology Director J.T. Burgess and County Coordinator Sue Vander Pol discussed the seven accepted bids the county received for a VoIP phone system. Officials then directed Burgess and Vander Pol to select the top three of the bidders to present at their next meeting.

On Tuesday, officials listened to representatives from AbaData Computer Corporation, Jive Communications and Millenia Technologies explain their company's history, features of their proposed phone system and what separated them from their competitors. They highlighted types of support and training provided, warranty information, types of products and equipment, lease and purchase options and how their systems would integrate with the current system the county uses.

Each company projected 30 to 45 days to install the new system.

Following the more than 55 minutes of presentations, officials looked at moving ahead on making a selection.

Vander Pol told commissioners the three companies' annual costs were within $2,000 of each other.

"The main thing now is for J.T. to look at available features, whether they provide 24/7 support?" the county coordinator inquired. "How does it work with the sheriff's department and public safety and how they handle if the internet goes down? What is their Plan B? What security systems come with it, do they have them in place or are those the types of things that will be coming later?

"Those are things that are going to have to be highlighted because the cost is pretty much equal."

Committee chair Larry Emig said there was a lot of information to go over and that it might be helpful if officials wait to make a decision.

"I'm sure the board will be looking to (Burgess) and Sue for part of this," he said. "They can give us the pro's and con's and then a recommendation on this. You're (Burgess) the expert on this."

Burgess said it might be better to wait until the next meeting.

"I would like all of us to digest what we heard," he said. "There are a few things I would like to think about, and we should check some of the references they provided. That would be good. Then, at the next meeting, you will be able to make an educated decision. We've heard a lot today and we'll see how it shakes out and what we find out."

Vander Pol said waiting also allows Burgess to work with vendors, and get an idea of an implementation plan how each of the three companies will work with the different departments.

In other action from Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting, officials heard the Osceola-Lake Conservation District annual report from Charmaine Lucas.

Lucas applauded the success of the October Household Hazardous Waste collection at the Osceola County Road Commission in Hersey.

"We had 135 households participate and collected more than 16,000 pounds of hazardous waste," she said. "We really appreciate the support of the county and the public. We plan to continue doing what we need to to keep the HHW collection program going."

Officials also approved the following items at Tuesday's meeting:

n Terminating the agreement with Government Payment Services for GovPayNet with the Sheriff's Office. The GovPayNet system, which allows credit cards to be used to post bond for those at the jail, has changed its operating procedures and wanted the county to accept the risk of fraudulent or stolen credit cards used to post bonds;

n A contractual agreement between Great Lakes EMS Academy, of Grand Rapids, and the county to allow riders with the department as part of their EMT training;

n Allowing Emergency Medical Services to use money from its fund balance to pay off the loan to the delinquent tax fund early for the Marion station;

n Entering a contract with LCM Surveying and Engineering for the 2017 remonumentation grant. Remonumentation involves finding and plotting the original U.S. government public land survey corners. This year's grant totals $37,808; and

n Changing the name of the Building, Technology and Economic Development/Public Safety/Health and Human Services Committee to the Health, Safety and Ground Committee.

Items passed by the Committee of the Whole were later approved by the Osceola County Board of Commissioners.

The next Osceola County Committee of the Whole meeting will be at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21.