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Antioch pays eight years for mystery phone line

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Monday, June 25th, 2007 at 9:38 am in Contra Costa politics.

After Antioch stopped paying directly for its councilmembers’ phone lines and switched to a flat-rate stipend, Antioch Councilman Arne Simonsen wanted to know why a telephone charge continued to show up on the City Council’s budget.

After a bit of research, Antioch staff figured out that it was a phone line installed in a city building downtown at least eight years ago, possibly for a former Antioch elected official. The building is shared by the city, staff for Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, and state Sen. Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch.

The phone line had escaped detection until it showed up as the only phone line being charged to the city council’s budget.

Thankfully, there’s been no long-distance calls to China, although that might have triggered someone’s attention far earlier.

But phones aren’t free, either. The cost was about $14 a month or $168 a year for roughly eight years. That adds up to $1,344.

On the other hand, let’s not blow it out of proportion: That’s a tiny fraction of the city’s $148.5 million budget this year.

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