Highland News Leader

Highland calls on new phone service provider

The Highland City Council on Monday approved a new landline phone service agreement between Highland Communication Services (HCS) and Momentum Telecom.

The new agreement will begin in May 2017, at which time the city will end its current partnership with Big River Communication Services for phone services.

“The city has been with Big River for quite some time. When HCS engaged in a relationship with Big River, there were no internal resources who could really understand the engineering,” said Angela Imming, director technology and Innovation for HCS. “It was decided that Big River, because they provide all those services, was a good partner at that time.”

But things have changed.

The current contract requires that Big River engineers be involved in service aspects. However, HCS now employs engineering expertise in-house, meaning the city can increase its profit margin (expected to be about $80,000) by doing such work itself.

“We pay for services from Big River, but there are other stipulations in the service contract. When we submit a ticket, they have eight hours to pick that up and work on it,” Imming said. “They don’t give me access to their resources.”

That’s why Imming recommended the council agree to partner with Momentum Telecom.

“Switching to Momentum would reduce wait time, and HCS could become more self-reliant. We want to make this as seamless as possible,” Imming said.

Momentum would allow the city to use its own engineers to troubleshoot problems, she said.

“They (Momentum) are going to let us borrow their PBX (Post Branch Exchange), which is what gives you the dial tone. It’s the brains of the phone service. It’s the ink in your pen,” Imming said.

Momentum Telecom offers five geographic redundant voices switches, which means if one of the five switchboards went down, there are four more Momentum can use. Big River has fewer boards.

As part of the new transition, Imming also recommended, and the council approved, entering into an agreement with Great Lakes Data Systems (GLDS) in order to bring subscriber management and billing functions in house. This means having the option of online payments instead of traditional mail for HCS customers.

“If HCS is able to move customer billing in house with existing employee resource levels, the savings will be the difference of $2.50-$.465 and the cost of paper and envelopes,” Imming said in a memo to council members.

Imming said GLDS will provide mailing services for the price of a first class stamp, plus 28 cents, or a savings of $1.75 per subscriber.

“Our goal is always to drive down operation inefficiencies,” Imming said. “We will also move to a paperless billing solution for all those who will accept that form.”


Council Action

Bids rejected for HHS tennis courts

City Council members also voted to reject all the bids for the new lights at Highland High School’s tennis courts. In a memo to the city council, Director of Light & Power Dan Cook said all the bids were well above the amount budgeted for the project. The budget for the project is $60,000.

Miscellaneous items to be sold

The City Council agreed to allow city departments to conduct an inventory of items, and any item no longer in use by the departments may be declared a surplus and put up for sale.

The Highland Police Department was also given permission to auction off items its has found lost or abandoned and were never claimed by the rightful owners.

The department will sell some items, donate items less than $100, and destroy items of no value. This auction will be held in conjunction with the city’s auction on Sept. 10 at 9 a.m. at the HCS building at 192 Woodcrest Drive.

The city has approved the motion to sell three vehicles obtained through the through the Madison County Asset Forfeiture Program. The vehicles are a 2007 Chevy Cobalt, 2007 Pontiac G6 and a 2002 Dodge Durango.

The council authorized the sale of the three vehicles through a public auction, eBay, or any other public sale auction website in a manner that obtains the best return for the city.

Commission members approved

Council members approved Mayor Joseph Michaelis’ reappointment of Jeremy Massa to the Parks & Recreation Advisory Commission. Massa has agreed to serve an additional three-year term, expiring on July 31, 2019.

The mayor also recommended the council reappoint Brad Korte and Bob Vance of the Combined Planning and Zoning Board to additional five-year terms. Their current terms expire Aug. 31.

“Each of them has proven to be an asset on the board and has agreed to serve an additional term,” said Mayor Michaelis in a memo to council members.

Korte and Vance’s new terms will expire Aug. 31, 2021.

Bid awarded for new police vehicle

Highland Police Chief Terry Bell recommended the council members approve the purchase of a 2017 Ford AWD Utility Police Patrol Vehicle for $28,383 from Tri Ford Inc., the only party that went to bid.

Bell said his department compared the cost of purchasing the same vehicle through the state bid process, since there was only one bid and discovered it would cost $28,639 if the city were to go through the state bid process. The council approved the bid.

Change order for Veterans Honor Parkway approved

The council approved to change the contract it had with Keller Construction for Veterans Honor Parkway. The original contract was for $394,060.84. The change was for $11,820.74 of work that ended up not being required, bringing the new total to $382,240.10.