Stillwater News Press

December 9, 2013

County officials remain undecided about cellphone policy

By Nick Woodruff
Stillwater NewsPress

STILLWATER, Okla. — The Payne County cellphone policy continues to stay in roam because county officials need more answers.

Payne County Clerk Glenna Craig pitched the idea of a stipend system the first time county officials brought up cellphone policy. In Monday's Payne County Budget Board meeting, it seemed Craig had most questions answered but it wasn't enough to get the board to approve a new policy.

Craig and Payne County Court Clerk Lisa Lambert said the stipend system would be the most logical. Lambert said the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and members of Oklahoma State University use the stipend system for cellphones.

Craig said not only is the stipend system more logical, but the stipend system would save the county approximately $1,800. The county has 94 cellphones issued to county employees, with most of the cellphones belonging to the Payne County Sheriff's Department and the Payne County Health Department.

Craig said the stipend system would eliminate a lot of problems, particularly cellphones wouldn't have to be audited.

Payne County Sheriff R.B. Hauf said he wouldn't like his officers' phones eligible for subpoena. Craig said the employees could add another cellphone to their existing family plan, and the county could make exceptions for the sheriff's department and subpoena wouldn't be an issue.

Hauf also said the stipend system may be a good idea, but the proposed stipend wouldn't cover the cost of the sheriff's  cellphones.

"I don't think the $40 would cover the cost," Hauf said. "We use smartphones for a variety of reasons. We email pictures, text messages and I don't know the cost of a smartphone."

Not only are there questions regarding the sheriff's department, Stadler also said county officials need to contact with the health department before making the stipend system for cellphones a county policy.

Lastly, the biggest issue delaying the policy acceptance is the cellphone's contract situations. Most cellphone contracts require a two-year contract agreement and it may be hard to start the policy right when it's accepted.

Stadler said it would be best if the county tabled this policy until more questions were answered, particularly from the sheriff's department.

"This appears to me it's something we can't even decide today," Stadler said. "Until you (Hauf) look into other factors involved with your particular situation."

The Payne County Budget Board tabled the policy with all yes votes except one. Board chairman Commissioners Chris Reding voted no to tabling the acceptance of a new cellphone policy.

"And I vote no," Reding said. "Because I want to get it done."