Douglas County officials say they can get better Internet service at a lower cost by contracting with a nonprofit organization instead of the local phone company.
County commissioners will be asked Wednesday to approve a plan to change their Internet Service Provider from AT&T to KanREN, a nonprofit corporation based in Lawrence that serves educational, research and government institutions.
According to a memo from the county's information technology director Jim Lawson, the county currently pays AT&T $24,948 per year for a 20 megabit-per-second connection which serves the majority of county departments.
In addition, he said, the Sheriff's Department pays $150 per month, or $1,800 per year, for its own connection that is no longer meeting its needs.
Lawson said KanREN has offered to provide the entire county government, including the Sheriff's Department, a 100 megabit connection for $21,300 per year, with an option to increase the bandwidth later if needed.
Commissioners will vote on that proposal when they meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the county courthouse.
Commissioners also will be asked to approve spending $82,289 to complete the second phase of a project to replace all the county's telephone equipment. That phase will replace equipment at five remote locations and integrate those systems into the county's main phone system at the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center.
Completion of the project is expected to save the county about $38,000 a year, according to Lawson.
Commissioners are also expected to authorize the Public Works Department to apply for federal funding to replace a bridge on East 1000 Road over Washington Creek about five miles south of Lawrence. The project is estimated to cost $631,000 and is scheduled for construction in 2017.