published Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Chattanooga overpaying its phone bill

Chattanooga is likely overpaying $140,000 a year for the city's phone bill because of an AT&T contract that is two decades old, a city audit revealed.

City Auditor Stan Sewell briefed the City Council on Tuesday on the audit that showed the city was operating on a month-to-month contract with AT&T that charges twice the current rate for such services and that the city is paying almost $10,000 a year for phone lines that aren't being used.

Also in June 2013, the city's IT Department renewed a contract with AT&T, but used the old rates that are more than double what is typically charged. The decision was made without council approval, which is required.

Brent Goldberg, the city's deputy chief operating officer, told the council that such a mistake won't happen again because the mayor's office has taken steps to ensure the contract is bid on a regular basis. The city's purchasing department will now monitor the contracts, he said.

Also city officials plan to meet with AT&T to negotiate a new contract to eliminate the extra costs, but officials might eventually eliminate a contract with the phone company altogether. The city's IT Department is working on a new voice over IP system that will use the Internet instead of telephone lines. This means officials said that the city is considering whether to extend its contract with EPB, the city-owned utility company that already provides Internet services.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press Since 2009, she's covered breaking news, high-profile trials, stories of lost lives and of regained hope and done investigative work. Raised near the Bayou, Joy’s hometown is along the outskirts of Baton Rouge, La. She has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University. While at LSU, Joy was a staff writer for the Daily Reveille. When Joy isn't chasing ...

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