St. John won’t have to hang on long for new gov’t phone system

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 15, 2008

ST. JOHN – At the August 26 regular Council Meeting, the St. John Council awarded Blackbox Communications the contract to install a new telephone operating system in all parish buildings. The new system will place all parish telephone service over “Voice Over IP” or telephone via the internet.

 Parish President Bill Hubbard proposed the new system to the council after learning of the cost savings that are possible with this type of service and also the features and connectivity offered by the new system. It is estimated that the new system will help the parish realize a savings of roughly $75,000.00 each year through the reduction of number of lines being purchased.

Currently, a citizen who calls the parish’s main line and needs to speak to the assessor must be given another number, hang up, call the assessor (who is 15 feet from the receptionist). If the assessor provides the information that the resident needed yet the resident now needs the Clerk of Court in order to do a real estate transaction, the resident is given another number, they must hang up, dial and then speak to the Clerk’s Office on the Westbank. 

Following the Clerk’s office the resident might need to know zoning information regarding the piece of property and the process must begin again in order for that resident to call the parish’s Planning and Zoning Office.  Under the new system, the resident can be transferred from location to location without ever having to hang up the phone or write down a different number for each different agency.

 “This system will allow the parish to operate like one cohesive unit under one building and will provide the resident with a seamless journey through parish government,” Parish President Bill Hubbard said.

The system is expected to be installed in December 2008. Also included under the new system’s umbrella is the Sheriff, Assessor, Judges, Clerk of Court, DMV, District Attorney (Westbank only), Civic Center, River Parishes Tourist Commission, Health Unit, Community Action, and the Parish Council.