Merritt city councillors approved a pair of Telus contracts that will see the City of Merritt’s long distance phone charges drop and the Internet charges increase.

Councillors considered the contract issues at a regular council meeting on Aug. 21, and agreed to support Financial Services Manager Pat Sibilleau’s recommendations to sign two new five-year phone and Internet contracts with Telus.

The new phone contract will set the City’s long distance rates at $0.024 a minute, down from $0.55 per minute with the previous contract.

This will decrease annual long distances charges from nearly $15,840 per year to $691 per year, which translates to savings of $15,148 based on current long distance usage (28,800 minutes per year).

By signing the contract before Sept. 1, Sibilleau anticipated savings of $5,049 for 2012.

As part of a phone/wireless infrastructure assessment, City staff also reviewed internet service and charges, which were $650 per month at the time.

Per Sibilleau’s recommendation, councillors agreed to sign a contract for Managed Business Internet 10M, which will cost $1,561 per month (a $911 increase).

The City currently used six different High Speed Internet ADSL services at six locations. The new system will allow one connection at City Hall, which will provide service to the other locations.

“Currently, Internet service fails multiple times in a week, sometimes several times per day, at City Hall [and] a staff member must restart the service,” read Sibilleau’s report, which explained that the Business Internet has an uptime guarantee of 99.9 per cent.

“A failure to Service Levels outlined in a contract will result in Service Level credits, which will be issued automatically without a request from the customer,” she said.

By signing the five-year Internet contract, costs will increase by $10,939 per year. Because Internet costs are included with the phone charges, there will be a net reduction in costs to the City.