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12/13/2013 10:35:00 PM
County Budget Board puts phones on hold, again
By Van Mitchell, Journal Staff Writer

The Payne County Budget Board Monday again tabled the idea of revising the county cell phone policy until more information can be garnered on the matter.

The board discussed the idea of creating a stipend system for county employees but tabled it because questions remained on how the system would affect the Payne County Sheriff's Department and the Payne County Health Department which has the largest number of county issued cell phones. The count has 94 cell phones issued to county employees.

Payne County Clerk Glenna Craig said by going to a stipend system it would save the county about $1,800 a month. She said the stipend system would eliminate several problems in particular cellphones wouldn't have to be audited.

Craig said the proposed system would give each county employee with a county issued cell phone a $40 month stipend to cover the cost of using their personal cell phones for county business.

"You don't have to worry about an audit or overages," Craig said. "You would get the $40 and that would be it. It would save the county almost $2,000 a month."

Payne County Sheriff R.B. Hauf said at last month's budget board meeting he didn't like the idea of his officers personal phones being eligible for subpoenas if a stipend system was adopted.

Craig said the sheriff department employees could add another cellphone to their existing family plan, and the county could make exceptions for the sheriff's department and subpoena shouldn't be an issue.

Hauf said he didn't think the stipend system would cover the cost of his employee's cell phones.

"We use smartphones for a variety of reasons," Hauf said. "We use text messaging a lot. We email pictures. I don't know that we could do it for $40 a month."

Budget Board Chairman Chris Reding raised the question of how the stipend system would be implemented since the county already contracts with AT&T for county cell phone usage.

Board members discussed having Payne County attorney Lowell Barto review the county options for its current cell phone contract plans and whether the county could get out of those contracts or wait until each cell phone contract expires.

Reding said following the meeting that his county cell phone contract was started last February and won't expire until 2015.

"If we go to this (stipend) plan am I still on that AT&T contract and can I can get out of that contract," Reding said. "That is the big question and I don't have that answer."

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