At the last council meeting, council voted 4 to 2 to continue a telephone/data audit of all county telecommunications with council members Joe Wood and David Pitts voting against it. After the meeting, councilmember Ted Nash called County Administrator Jon Caime to reconsider his vote.
In order to give council an opportunity to discuss the audit and to possibly vote again, Caime suspended the audit until that time.
During the audit process, SpyGlass, the company contracted to conduct the audit, was able to find an unused data line that was reportedly costing the county $3,300 a month.
The idea of not continuing with the audit did not set well with county residents, prompting letters to the editor and a packed house at the council meeting on Tuesday night.
While approving the agenda at the beginning of the meeting, Wood said that Nash had decided not to reconsider his vote and that the audit would continue as planned. That action took the item off the agenda to discuss the audit and possibly the topic that six people had signed up to address council.
During the meeting, Emergency Management Director Joey Avery addressed council regarding the unused data line that has been reportedly costing the county $3,300 a month. Avery said that records indicate that the data line was disconnected in 2005 and that the last reported use date of 1996 was false.
“It is very preliminary,” said Avery when talking about their findings. “The staff did what they were supposed to do and if it was an error on the telco part then we will take that up with the telco for reimbursement.”
Avery said that the cost of the data line is not close to the approximately $800,000 previously reported. He said that it is probably about “a fourth” of that figure.
“This was not mismanagement or fault on anybody’s part,” said Avery. “This was an issue with the telco and we need to resolve those issues. This telephone audit will be good for us. It’s always good to take a third party look at things. We’ve got a problem. It is an issue that we will fix. We are no different than any other county, any other city or any other business. There are phone lines that need to come out.”
At the end of the meeting, Councilmember David Pitts had a chance to make a few comments regarding the audit.
“I’m cognizant that mistakes will be made,” said Pitts. “We are human. I believe that evidenced by the directive in 2005 to discontinue this line, that our employees acted in good faith and they believed that this particular line had been discontinued. I also believe in fiscal responsibility. I respect the democratic process and I respect the will of this council so we will continue with this audit. But to write a blank check my friends is fiscally irresponsible.”
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