County investigates adding toll-free numbers

Residents who live at the far end of Whitley County and have to call long distance to reach the county government offices may soon get some relief.The Whitley County Board of Commissioners discussed last week the possibility of installing toll-free telephone numbers in most of the county’s government offices.The lines could cost three cents per minute.This move would benefit Churubusco residents, or citizens with a 693 prefix on their telephone numbers.Commissioner Don Amber used the assessor’s office as an example of the benefits to the new numbers.“I’m thinking about how sad it is that you could live in Whitley County and have to call long distance to find out about your taxes,” Amber said.The commission discussed options with Butch Sterner of SDS Communications who is looking into the options of installing toll-free numbers.One concern was the possibility of residents using a toll-free number when it isn’t necessary.Sterner however gave the callers the benefit of the doubt.“For the most part, people know if it’s a local call or not,” he said.The commissioners discussed such logistics as whether or not every county government office should have its own number or whether or not there should be fewer numbers than offices and an automatic prompt that would direct callers to the appropriate office.“We need to decide what we want to do with the 800 numbers and how we want to assign them,” said Commissioner Mike Schrader.Sterner agreed.“The first thing is to figure out how many 800 numbers we want,” he said.Sterner will report back to the commissioners at next month’s meeting Nov. 1.