Fenwick Council Agrees To Upgrade Phone System

FENWICK ISLAND – Citing issues with a decades-old phone system, officials in Fenwick Island last month agreed to pursue an upgrade at a cost of nearly $7,000.

On July 26, the Fenwick Island Town Council voted unanimously to replace the phone system at town hall, which is expected to cost nearly $7,000 in service fees and cabling work for fiscal year 2020.

Town Manager Terry Tieman told the council town staff began reviewing proposals from four providers for an upgraded phone system after experiencing problems with the current system’s call-forwarding feature.

“The phone system we’ve been using is from circa 1995 and it is no longer being maintained,” she said. “The person that was maintaining it has retired. So it was in the process of finding another company to maintain the system that we realized the system was archaic and couldn’t be maintained.”

Tieman said town staff recommended a new phone system from Comcast Business. Although it wasn’t the lowest priced system, she noted the benefits outweighed the costs.

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“They provide 24-hour customer service and mobility,” she said. “That means when the desk phone in the lifeguard room rings, it rings on [the captain’s] cellphone, the same with our police officers and public works manager. This is going to be a real asset for our service people that are out working.”

Tieman added a new system would be a maintenance solution for the town and would come with a reasonable monthly cost.

A report to the council highlighted an additional $3,291.36 in total monthly service fees for fiscal year 2020 and an additional $3,600 in cabling work at the police station.

“After careful review, we believe the Comcast system provides convenience, benefits and features the digital systems do not,” Tieman said in the report. “This system also provides additional internet speeds to town hall that we will need to be able to expand technology as we move forward into the future.”

Councilwoman Vicki Carmean said she understood the need for a new phone system,

“I know a couple of years ago under another town manager a good bit of money was spent on phones, but it was not well spent,” she said. “I think a phone system is really important.”

However, she shared her concerns about the budget.

“My main concern is this is a very tight budget year,” she said. “We are trying to do a lot of good things with not a lot of money.”

Tieman noted the financial benefits of selecting the proposed phone system.

“One of the things that made this system attractive was that some of the other systems would have required more of an initial outlay than this,” she said.

Tieman added a new phone system would provide features the town’s current system did not, including caller ID, remote call forwarding and a night button.

“On the holidays, the phones just ring,” she said. “That will be resolved with this.”

With no further questions, the council voted unanimously to replace the town’s current phone system. The replacement is expected to take less than a month to complete.

“I think we are headed in the right direction,” Tieman said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.