County makes switch in phone service

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By Jesse Osbourne

The Washington County fiscal court opted to change phone services on Friday, leaving AT&T for SouthEast Telephone.
With the change, the county is consolidating from four bills to one.

“There will be no change in numbers, no change in service,” Washington County Judge-Executive John Settles said.
Lee Stevens and Chris Hill from SouthEast Telephone presented to the court on Friday at the regular scheduled meeting.
Stevens and Hill said they could guarantee savings of at least $250 a month for the county.
Magistrate Hal Goode spoke of his experience with SouthEast through SWEDA.
Goode said the initial savings is what drew his office to the company, and that the customer service was excellent.
Goode did mention problems with the Internet service that was straightened out, and he recommended that the company reopen a satellite office in Springfield.
The court opted to allow county attorney Hamilton Simms to review the contract proposed by SouthEast. The court also voted to sign the contract pending Simms’ approval.

Health insurance renewal
Bob Davis with Anthem insurance presented to the court on Friday, as well.
Davis said county employees could see a potential 15-percent increase in health insurance rates during the next plan year.
“If we save money on what the county puts in for deductibles, then that will come back to the county and that will greatly offset that increase,” Settles said.
This year, Settles said the county has used about 67 percent of what it has paid in.
“Like this year, it’s projected, and we’re almost done with the plan year, that we’re only going to spend about 67 percent of the 100 percent that the county is putting in,” he said. “The remainder will come back to the county.”
After discussion of specific elements of the plan, the court voted to renew the plan for one more year.

Sheriff tax settlement
Melissa Knopp with the Washington County Sheriff’s office presented the 2010 tax settlement to the court.
Knopp said the office had a 99-percent collection rate, with a $4.8 million tax base.
County clerk refund
County clerk Glenn Black returned money to the county from his office budget.
Black brought a check to the court for $10,098.06 that was left over from the clerk’s office budget. He previously refunded the county around $75,000 from excess fees in March.

Mackville Road excavation
According to Settles, Mackville Road will not be closed until some time after July 4.
Settles said the road closing will have to be advertised on a roadside sign for 12 days prior to the change.
The closing will be caused by work on the ‘thrill hills’ on Mackville Road.

Blacktop projects begin
County road supervisor Albert Wimsatt said blacktop projects have begun in the county, with new asphalt going down on Cane Run, Tick Creek and Smith roads.