City to conduct emergency repairs to phone system

The city’s phone system will be receiving a complete overhaul in advance of the FY24 capital budget being passed.

Homer City Council passed Ordinance 23-28, appropriating $35,000 to conduct emergency repairs on the city’s telephone system, during their last regular meeting on Monday, June 12.

Funds for the phone system repairs had already been set aside in the FY24 capital budget, according to a May 30 memorandum from chief technology officer Bill Jersa to the council, but as city staff felt “the potential for serious impact warrants more immediate action,” funds were instead appropriated from the FY23 capital budget in the same amount.

According to the memo, the city’s IT team has identified several goals in the area of IT infrastructure noted as “highest concern,” a label which is reserved for issues that present a serious risk to the continuity of business operations for the city.

“The severest of the risks … identified comes from the phone system that performs phone switching for all city work centers except at the police station,” the memo states.

According to the memo, “critical components” of the current phone system, including the central switchboard at City Hall, runs on decades-old hardware “that exhibits increasing signs of imminent failure.” The switchboard has crashed at least five times since March, resulting in unplanned service outages for phones across all city departments except the police station, the memo states.

Ordinance 23-28 states that “IT staff believe the … equipment is likely to fail permanently at any moment, with no backup or recovery capacity currently available, and restoring service after a complete collapse could require weeks of effort and considerable cost.”

Based on city staff’s recommendation in the memo, the council passed the ordinance in order to resolve the problem ahead of time.

Tasks included in the project include the installation and configuration of a new telephone switching server at City Hall, integration of the City Hall call management system with the police department’s system, replacement of handsets older than 16 years in use across city work centers, and transferring to the new phone system from the existing one “in a short period of time (3 days),” according to the memo.

Ordinance 23-28 was included in the approval of the consent agenda during the June 12 council meeting, items from which are enacted by the council in one overarching motion. No discussion was held on the ordinance during the meeting.

The next city council meeting will be held on Monday, June 26 at 6 p.m. Ordinance 23-28 and the May 30 memorandum can be found in full at