Tensions between county officials and CenturyLink are reaching a boiling point. Presiding Commissioner Darrell Skiles reported frustration both Thursday, and again Monday concerning billing mistakes, which he says are shorting the county’s 911 fund, and a lack of communication the county has received concerning the sheriff office’s 911 system.

“CenturyLink is probably the most frustrating vendor we have to deal with,” Skiles said Monday. “The local people here are great, but there is a problem at the higher levels of the business offices.”

Skiles then commented that the company is incorrectly sending money collected in Dent County from landline fees for its 911 system to other neighboring counties. Last year the fees paid by a number of customers living along Highway H, were found to be going to Reynolds County, instead of staying in Dent, Skiles says. He points to an unexpected $8,809 increase in 911 fund collections last year as proof the county has been getting stiffed.

“I don’t think there was a significant increase in the number of landlines hooked up last year,” Skiles said. “We are asking all residents to look at their billing statements to make sure Dent County is designated for the 911 funds. If you don’t see a county listed please call 1-800-786-6272 or 1-866-519-7885. Be prepared to be very insistent and persistent for them to fix the mistake that they have made.”

Skiles said that fixing the problem is unfortunately up to each individual user, as a third party cannot lodge a complaint concerning an account.

Skiles also says CenturyLink still has yet to send a representative to speak with the county about the sheriff office’s need for a new 911 system, which the company is quoting to be $120,000-$150,000. The county, in fact, was not even given the convenience of being told their system was obsolete, but only found out the company would no longer honor its service agreement when billing suddenly ceased last year, he said.

“We had to call them to find out what was going on,” Skiles said.

Dent County Clerk Angie Curley also expressed frustration with the company. She said she has had to spend hours on the phone, sometimes via her personal cell phone, to have the company do things which are normal procedure for other vendors. Curley said a big frustration is the company not waiving January late fees. By law, the county cannot pay bills prior to its budget being approved, so January payments are delayed. Curley says other vendors have procedures in place to accommodate the county, but CenturyLink is the only one which refuses to waive the fees.

“We have 18 accounts with CenturyLink, and I have to go through them one-by-one with their representatives on the phone,” Curley says. “We can’t tie up our phone lines dealing with this for hours, we have people calling for voting information.”

Other news

• Skiles reported Thursday that he and Bob Parsons attended the Meramec Regional Planning Commission legislative day in Jefferson City, and they met with several legislators. Skiles also said the phantom phone call problem at the sheriff’s office has been solved.

• First District Commissioner Dennis Purcell reported Monday that road crews would be grading county roads 4210, 6220 and 6580. They will be adding material to 6580 as well. Brush cutting will be taking place road 6600.

• Second District Commissioner Gary Larson reported Monday that road crews would be grading roads 2120, 5240 and 2240. They will be adding material to 2040 as well. Brush cutting will be taking place road 2070.

• Curley reported that absentee voting for the March presidential primary is today (Tuesday). The last day to register for the March primary is Feb. 17.

• Rich Hall, Thom Haines and Melissa Steward, of the U.S. Forest Service, visited with the commission Thursday to discuss Title II funds.

• Tim Bruemer, Henderson Products LLC, visited the commission Thursday to discuss options for trucks and snow plows for the county’s road and bridge department. Bruemer said Henderson now has a contract with MoDOT.

• Barbara LaPointe presented the commission with a petition signed by residents of private lane 401, asking the county to adopt the roadway as an official county road. LaPointe said she felt the lane was a county road in the past, and it was vacated without the resident’s knowledge. Larson said he would investigate the issue.