Meridian Star

November 16, 2012

Supervisors consider changing phone use

By Terri Ferguson Smith /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     County officials are likely to adopt a new cell phone policy that will reimburse county employees who use their personal cell phones to conduct county business.

    Supervisors discussed the use of cell phones at a work session on Thursday.

    It's an issue the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors has talked about on and off for about a year and they expect to take action on it when the board meets Monday.

    Joe McCraney, county administrator, said the policy will keep people from having to carry two cell phones, as some do now. For employees whose work necessitates a cell phone and that plan is paid for by the county, the phone is restricted for county business only. If they use the cell phone for personal calls, they are expected to pay for those calls after the statements arrive.

    This will give them the option of using the personal phone for county work if they so choose.

    "If somebody elects not to use a county cell phone,  they use their personal cell phone," McCraney said, "they can be reimbursed by the county for that phone."

    Reimbursement would be $25 a month for basic cell phone usage plus $15 a month for phones with data plans. The funds would be paid annually at the end of the year.

    The allowance, according to a copy of the new policy, is intended to reimburse the employee for the average business use of the cell phone and not to pay the entire phone bill.

    The Board of Supervisors will determine if a personal cell phone can be used for conducting business and there are conditions that county employees must abide by if they are considered for reimbursement.

    The employee must notify the county of the cell number and agree to have the number distributed to appropriate staff members or published to the public, if needed.

    Approved employees will not be reimbursed for the purchase of a new cell phone.

    County employees who began using their personal cells for work-related calls after January 1 of this year will be reimbursed on a pro-rated basis.

    County employees who keep using county-issued and funded cell phones will still have to reimburse the county for personal calls.