Victoria County denies damage payment to AT&T

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

May 21, 2012 at 12:21 a.m.
Updated May 22, 2012 at 12:22 a.m.

Victoria County Commissioners denied payment Monday to a phone company's damage claims.

AT&T billed the county for $744.16, damage it said was caused when a road crew in the 13700 block J 2 Ranch Road in Precinct 4 cut through phone lines while cleaning a ditch in April.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Clint Ives said he waited to get the go-ahead before sending a crew to cut three miles of drainage ditches on the south side of the road.

Ives said his crew waited for AT&T to finish work moving their line from the south side to the north side before they got to work.

"We ended up cutting a fairly large phone line and AT&T has billed us for that," Ives said. "I make a motion that we receive this and deny payment."

An email dated Jan. 5 to Ives from the company's corporate office said his contractors can proceed with their work.

"We did not pull it out of the ground," the email states. "The county can start work you all won't hurt anything."

Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Janak seconded the motion and it passed with a unanimous vote.

Ives said the company will send a bill to any entity to recoup damages.

"It's not unusual for them to be denied payment," he said.

Commissioners also voted unanimously to apply for a volunteer firefighter grant program to fund a $50,000 communication and response project.

Director of Administrative Services Joyce Dean said the county will have to replace the existing pagers once the new narrow band standard of communication goes into effect, no later than Jan. 1, as required by the Federal Communication Commission.

The county estimates having to purchase 130 interoperable pagers, costing $48,449.

Dean said they are "trying to chip away at the $50,000 the county will have to spend."

The grant is through the 2012 Dow Community Grants program.

The county receives and supports the assistance of about 200 volunteer firefighters associated with 11 volunteer departments, including Bloomington, DaCosta, Fordtran, Inez, Lone Tree, Mission Valley, Nursery, Placedo, Quail Creek, Raisin and Victoria County.

According to the grant application, if the county does not replace the existing equipment, there will be a "major failure" in the alerting system for volunteer response to emergencies in the county and mutual aid assistance in neighboring counties.



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