MLS Message - Telephone Expenses

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Reece-p40
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MLS Message - Telephone Expenses

Postby Reece-p40 » Thu Aug 06, 2009 5:17 am

We received a message from MLS Support dated 26 Jun 2009, as follows:

To: ALL STAKE CLERKS, ASST STAKE CLERKS, AND WARD CLERKS

Subject: STAKE/WARD TELEPHONE EXPENSE REIMBURSEMENTS AND MEETINGHOUSE INTERNET EXPENSES

The first paragraph of that message began like this:

“The stake is authorized for one office telephone line for the stake and one for each ward/branch in the stake. Clerk offices, interview rooms, and computer rooms should all be tied to that line. Each building can also have one hall phone for member use, but should be restricted from long distance, directory assistance, and 800 number dialing.”

As the message was reviewed in Bishopric Meeting, the above statements created lengthy discussion. Eventually, the Bishop asked me to answer the following questions…

1. As a single ward meetinghouse, are we authorized for one or two phone lines?

2. If that answer is “one”, how is it possible to restrict the telephone set in the hallway as described, without restricting the phone set in the clerk’s office?

As usual, I told him…”Bishop, I’ll get back to you…” :cool:

Before I contact the stake, I was wondering if anyone here had comments. We currently have one phone line, tied to all phone sets. Since we have no internet, and still use a dialup connection, I had to install a switch under the clerk's desk to disconnect the hall phone set during Send/Receive activities (10-15 minutes minimum). Someone picking up the phone in the hallway during that time would kill the transfer.

(Sidenote: I'm always in trouble with the members because I forget to turn the switch back before I lock the office and go home.) :o

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Thu Aug 06, 2009 5:57 am

Reece wrote:“The stake is authorized for one office telephone line for the stake and one for each ward/branch in the stake. Clerk offices, interview rooms, and computer rooms should all be tied to that line. Each building can also have one hall phone for member use, but should be restricted from long distance, directory assistance, and 800 number dialing.”
...
1. As a single ward meetinghouse, are we authorized for one or two phone lines?

2. If that answer is “one”, how is it possible to restrict the telephone set in the hallway as described, without restricting the phone set in the clerk’s office?
...
Before I contact the stake, I was wondering if anyone here had comments. We currently have one phone line, tied to all phone sets.


Clearly you need to work with the stake PFR, who can work with the local FM group. But it seems clear to me that the phone in the hallway is intended to be on a separate line. Otherwise it makes no sense to say that it is "restricted from long distance, directory assistance, and 800 number dialing," since those restrictions are based on a phone line, not a phone, and they clearly don't apply to the bishop/clerk phone.

In all but one building in our stake, we have a separate phone in the hallway, and it is on a separate line. The Church pays for those phone lines along with the regular bishop/clerk phone lines for each ward. With proper coordination and approval, your FM group should be able to arrange to have the hall phone put on a separate line.

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ffrsqpilot
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Separate Lines

Postby ffrsqpilot » Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:02 am

We recently ran into this in our stake. One of our Branches had one line that went to the Branch President, Clerk, and hallway phone. At the direction of our FM group (and with their help) we had a second line installed that the Branch President and Clerk share (which seems to be the standard in most meeting houses) and the other line for the hallway phone. As for the hallway phone being restricted from long distance, 800 calls, and directory assistance, one would have to check with the FM folks and how they set that up with the phone company.

In any case, I believe there must be a policy somewhere that separate lines must be set up so that confidentiality can be maintained as well as the means of having direct dial for MLS transactions where internet access is not yet set up.

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Postby russellhltn » Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:15 am

Reece wrote:but should be restricted from [..] 800 number dialing.


Hmmm, I wonder why? 900, I can understand.
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Postby lajackson » Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:16 pm

Pilotfly wrote:I believe there must be a policy somewhere that separate lines must be set up so that confidentiality can be maintained as well as the means of having direct dial for MLS transactions where internet access is not yet set up.


It would not be good for a bishop to be talking with another bishop about someone and have a member pick up the hall phone and be able to listen in on the conversation. [grin]

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Postby jdlessley » Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:18 pm

Reece wrote:“The stake is authorized for one office telephone line for the stake and one for each ward/branch in the stake. Clerk offices, interview rooms, and computer rooms should all be tied to that line. Each building can also have one hall phone for member use...”
It is clear to me that there is one telephone line for administrative purposes that the bishop, clerks, and other leaders use. There is an additional telephone line for the building with the restrictions stated. It is apparent to me that the hall phone is necessary for emergency use. Without it calling for emergency and safety services could be problem - especially during those times in which the building is open and in use and administration offices are not open.

So the answer to the questions are:
1. Two, one for administrative purposes and one for the building/hallway.
2. Answered by 1.

I would expect that the building/hall phone could have extensions in other locations in the building for those general membership needs. The administrative telephone line would be restricted to those needing confidential/private communications.

Looking at the wording of the message tells me that the interview rooms would need confidential/private communications and possibly a need to call Church offices outside the local area. The computer room would need long distance for service support. Until now these needs were met in our stake and wards by two administrative telephone lines and one building/hall line. The bishop's line was/is separate from the clerk line. We do not have telephone access in the interview rooms and the computer room is the clerk's office since the only computers outside the family history center are there.

I suspect that going to one administrative telephone line will require a modification to the line access to permit the bishop to control whether or not the other extensions will have access when his telephone is being used for one of those confidential/private calls. I can see how units use the telephone for their communication needs will need to be adjusted. With the ubiquity of cell phones members my be using their own cell phones to make those calls in which they used the unit's telephones for in the past.

The issue for units still using dialup for their administrative computers adds an additional level of complexity to solving communications needs for a unit. It begs the question as to whether the Church plans for all administrative computers to be connected to the Internet and not rely on a dialup line. Planning/coordinating the times for MLS send/recieves will have to be worked out with the bishop until then.

EDIT: After reviewing the message wording again I see there is no mention of bishops/stake presidents for the one line shared amoung the clerk offices, interview rooms, and computer rooms. Perhaps the bishop's/stake president's line is not intended to be a part of this new policy. If so, then some of the issues discussed are not a concern. Then the answer to question 1. is then three (3) - the bishop's line, the administrative line, and the building/hall phone line. The FM Group can probably shed a clearer light on this new policy since they manage this asset.
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Postby rmrichesjr » Fri Aug 07, 2009 6:25 pm

jdlessley wrote:...

I suspect that going to one administrative telephone line will require a modification to the line access to permit the bishop to control whether or not the other extensions will have access when his telephone is being used for one of those confidential/private calls. I can see how units use the telephone for their communication needs will need to be adjusted. With the ubiquity of cell phones members my be using their own cell phones to make those calls in which they used the unit's telephones for in the past.

...


I have seen one solution to let a unit leader (bishop or stake president) cut off the other extensions. The line from the telco was routed directly to the unit leader's office on pair 1 of a 2+ pair cable. Pair 2 of that cable (the outer pins of the RJ-11) was routed to the other extensions. In the case I saw, when one of the switch-hook buttons was pulled upward, it cut off the other extensions. (It was a pre-deregulation phone set.)

If the cable to the unit leader's office phone has two pairs, and if the FM group can be persuaded to do a bit of punching in the utility closet, it should be possible to approximate that setup so the unit leader can have phone privacy when needed. (If you're lucky, the unit leader will check and listen for an existing call in progress on another extension before pulling the switch.) If building a separate switch-box, make sure to use a DPST switch to keep the two wires symmetrical to avoid noise or hum problems.

Fancier methods could be used to give exclusive control of the line to first extension to go off hook, but a simple switch should suffice.

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Postby russellhltn » Fri Aug 07, 2009 6:45 pm

jdlessley wrote:It is clear to me that there is one telephone line for administrative purposes that the bishop, clerks, and other leaders use. There is an additional telephone line for the building with the restrictions stated. It is apparent to me that the hall phone is necessary for emergency use. Without it calling for emergency and safety services could be problem - especially during those times in which the building is open and in use and administration offices are not open.


That would have been true 10 years ago, but today with cell phones some common, I doubt if that's the situation for most buildings.

I know our stake center has a "hall phone" just outside the kitchen, but I can't remember the last time I saw a phone plugged in there.
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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Fri Aug 07, 2009 6:59 pm

rmrichesjr wrote:Fancier methods could be used to give exclusive control of the line to first extension to go off hook, but a simple switch should suffice.


There are also phones designed to do this. We had one in our stake office a few years back. When the stake president was on the phone, the phone in the clerk's office on the same line acted dead until the stake president hung up. I believe the pair of phones were from Radio Shack.

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Postby jdlessley » Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:29 pm

RussellHltn wrote:That would have been true 10 years ago, but today with cell phones some common, I doubt if that's the situation for most buildings.

I know our stake center has a "hall phone" just outside the kitchen, but I can't remember the last time I saw a phone plugged in there.
Interesting. In our stake the percentages of people using cell phones is not high enough to remove the hall cell phone and ensure adequate emergency communications. I for one do not use a cell phone for the simple reason that it is a luxury that falls into the category of a want rather than a need and we therefore cannot justify the expense.
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