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County Supervisors frustrated with radio bill

ELIZABETHTOWN As the Essex County Board of Supervisors agreed to pay the latest bill for radio circuit lines, they revisited arguments over who should ultimately be held responsible for the expense. The resolution, which had been approved in previous committee meetings, called for a transfer of over $6,100 from the Emergency Services department budget to cover the expense of servicemen from Wells Communications to do troubleshooting on the lines. The lines were installed early this year following a resolution by the board to provide E911 service to Long Lake, a town in Hamilton County. Why are we paying for it? asked North Elba supervisor Roby Politi. Why isnt Long Lake paying for this? County Attorney Dan Manning explained that Long Lake is under no obligation to pay the bill because no agreement was in place with the town as far as what it would contribute to the expense of the new lines. A formal contract with a policy of shared expenses has yet to be finalized with the neighboring town. As County Manager Dan Palmer explained, when trouble with the lines first arose, Frontier Communications and Verizon, the companies which installed the lines, were first asked to service them. Both claimed that it was not a problem with the infrastructure, but rather the service provided by Wells. However, Wells servicemen determined that the problem was, in fact, related to the lines themselves and not the radio service. If they had handled it properly we would not have had to call Wells, said Essex supervisor Ron Jackson, who suggested going after the phone companies to contribute to the bill. It is an expense we would not have if Long Lake wasnt connected to the system so it seems to me that this is their bill and not our bill, said Westport supervisor Dan Connell. I dont know how we can justify this to the Essex County taxpayers. Initially, some board members either stated that they would vote against the payment or suggested putting the resolution on hold until an agreement with Long Lake was reached. Chesterfield supervisor Gerald Morrow noted an obligation to pay for the service, however. I think we should move it and pay it today and then negotiate or go after the telephone companies or try to make an agreement with Long Lake, but the bill is ours to pay, he said. We are the ones that called [Wells] in, not Long Lake. Manning assured the board that an agreement with Long Lake was forthcoming. If they dont like the agreement that we pose, then we can certainly just turn the lines off and then they can go somewhere else, Manning said. Members of the board voted unanimously to approve paying the bill. This is not Long Lakes problem, said Elizabethtown supervisor Noel Merrihew. If the shoe was on the other foot we would have the same resistance that they have today... We put ourselves in this position so this will make it right.

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