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10/17/2013 10:18:00 PM
Cell phone policy put on hold
By Van Mitchell, Journal Staff Writer

The Payne County Budget Board tabled Monday a proposal to change the county's cell phone policy to include paying county employees a stipend for individual cell phone plans for business usage.

Payne County Clerk Glenna Craig said she made the recommendation for the policy change to avoid future issues with cell phone abuse or audits. Budget Board members will take up the issue again at a special meeting on Oct. 28 where they will also discuss insurance recommendations from the county's insurance broker Premier Consulting.

"My recommendation that I had to board is that we should have a stipend to pay commissioners and employees to carry a personal cell phone so that we no longer have an issue criteria all applicants must meet. Casey, R-Morrison, said this project will benefit over 600 residents. with abuse, cell phone audits or any problems with cell phones," Craig said.

Craig's office previously audited county departments concerning county-issued cell phone usage. The audit raised questions about several county employees whose phone usage included minutes talking with family members. Payne County District Attorney Tom Lee sent a letter out to all county employees reminding them that all county issued cell phones were to be used for business only.

Craig said the board recommended that each county department head bring back information about their employees and who has county-issued phones.

"We want each officer to bring forward how many employees they have carrying county cell phones, what kind of cell phone plan those employees need, compare the costs and what it would cost to give employees a stipend compared to paying for a cell phone service," Craig said. "We are either going to address that at the special meeting on Oct. 28 or the regular meeting on Nov. 14. I am pushing for the stipend because it will eliminate a lot of problems."

Commissioner Chris Reding, who also serves as chairman of the budget board, said he wanted to see the county cell phone policy changed as well.

"It aligns with what most counties do right now," Reding said of the stipend proposal. "The cell phone policy we have right now is onerous to say the least. I carry two phones. It doesn't make a lot of sense."

Reding said if the county went to the stipend plan they would wait until the county contracts with AT&T expires on county phones.

Board members also approved having Premier Consulting visit with county employees on Oct. 22 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Payne County Fairgrounds to discuss insurance options for 2014.

Craig said Premier Consulting recommended using Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Community Care an HMO for health insurance and that the county should remain with Delta Dental for dental services.

She said the board would then vote on Premier's recommendations.

The budget board also gave permission to Reding to create a travel policy draft for county travel for the board to review.

"We don't have a travel policy and procedure right now," Reding said. "What I requested was permission to put together a draft or starting point where we could all come together or make changes."

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