Opportunity rings loud, clear for county

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 11, 2004

Tribune editorial board

Ring, ring, ring. Will someone please answer that telephone? With more than 160 telephone lines Lawrence County's government offices are constantly hearing the incessant ringing.

Worse than the ringing, however, is the sting of the bill when it arrives at the Lawrence County Commissioners' mailbox each month. Weighing in at an average of approximately $8,000 per month, the county's telephone bill is certainly a heavyweight utility contender.

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The county is considering an upgrade to its telephone system that would drastically reduce the number of individual telephone lines the county has and share the remaining ones throughout all of the offices.

The move is estimated to save as much as $25,000 per year initially and as much as $60,000 after the upgrade is paid off in five years.

Making the change appears to be a no-brainer.

Our concern, however, is that the telephone overspending signals the likelihood that the county is overspending on lots and lots of other items, too.

To our knowledge, the telephone upgrades that will reduce the costs aren't anything new or state-of-the-art or just now offered in our area. The only apparent "newness" is the county's interest in reducing expenses.

We encourage the county commissioners to make it their purpose to dig into all expenses, throughout the county's entire budget and look for other savings opportunities. This should be a requirement of the job, not just something to consider during an election year.

We know the savings opportunities exist.

The most glaring would be simply making all county offices remain open during all business hours instead of closing before 5 p.m. as many do. Using those extra hours, for which, in a sense, taxpayers have already paid, just makes sense. Have all the workers work a full eight-hour day would do one of two things: either get more work done or get the same work done with less people.

Ring, ring, ring. Will someone in county government answer that telephone?

Opportunity is calling.