After months of research, the Franklin County commission on Tuesday approved just under $75,000 to revamp the aging phone systems at several county buildings.

First District Commissioner Tim Brinker says the current county phone system is more than 10 years old and was installed when the government and judicial centers were completed in 2006.

“This system is antiquated and in some cases obsolete,” Brinker said. “In the long run the county will save money on maintenance and the monthly bills will be cheaper as well.”

The new phone infrastructure will not be a standard land line, but instead will use voice over internet protocol utilizing the internet to place and receive phone calls.

According to the commission order, the purchase of the new phone equipment and hardware comes with a price tag of $61,306, which will include 260 new handsets and additional support equipment.

Installation of the equipment will cost an additional $13,468, but Brinker said much of the work can be done in-house by the county’s Information Technology department.

The county will be able to recoup some of that money by selling the old office phones on the used equipment aftermarket. They expect to get about $50 per phone.

Brinker says by signing the contract with AT&T the county looks to save between $15,000 and $20,000 per year.

Back in early November, the county entered into an agreement with Merced County, California, hoping it could then piggy-back on a contract with AT&T that county had already negotiated to save much time and legal wrangling.

The signing of the agreement, as explained by County Counselor Mark Vincent, will allow the county to work with Merced County and AT&T, as part of the Fast Open Contracts Utilization Services program (FOCUS).

Vincent explained FOCUS is much like similar programs used by the county to get the best possible bids on products and services by using negotiations and agreements already done by other public entities to save time and avoid unnecessary redundancies.

By joining with Merced, Franklin County was able to deal directly with AT&T on what its needs might be and how much it will cost.

The upgrades to the county phone system are expected to be extensive since the analog system will be obsolete in 2017 and must be replaced by a digital system.

At that time, Brinker said he was unsure on the complete costs to upgrade the phones, but thought it could be well over $100,000, so they are coming in under previous estimates.

In addition to this new FOCUS program, the county also utilizes the U.S. Communities and National Association of Counties as cooperatives for purchases.