LA County dead phone lines cost $1.5 million per year

Birds on phone lines
Birds on phone lines
Darrell Ingham/Getty Images

Los Angeles County officials are about halfway through the process of finding thousands of phone lines the county pays for, but doesn’t use. So far, they’ve found more than 8,000 dead phone lines that cost taxpayers more than $1.5 million a year.

County deputy executive officer Ellen Sandt says with more than 100,000 employees working in buildings throughout the county, phone lines can be hard to track.

Ellen Sandt: "You know people get moved around within a building, within a floor, from floor to floor. And when they change offices, the line in their old office wasn’t disconnected. Sometimes, you get examples like you think of at home where maybe you have telephone on one side of the living room, but then you’d really rather have it on the other side of the living. You move it, but then the old one doesn’t get disconnected or something."

What triggered the phone line audit was the discovery that more than 300 phone lines were still turned on at the now-closed Martin Luther King Harbor Hospital in Willowbrook. Sandt says the audit has taught L.A. County a lesson about what needs to be done when it shuts down a facility.