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Cape Coral to stop providing cell phones to employees

By Staff | Jan 4, 2011

Cape Coral plans on implementing a cell phone stipend program for its employees, bringing an end to all city funded cell phones by Feb. 1.
No employees — including supervisors, department heads or even the city manager himself — will have use of a city funded cell phone.
Police and fire department employees will also have their cell phone service discontinued.
City Manager Gary King’s memo dated Dec. 9, 2010, details the new program’s intentions, which is to “save the City both in dollars expended and labor time required by staff to monitor monthly billing statements,” although its unknown how much money the program will actually save the city, according to spokeswoman Connie Barron, though she said the savings could be “significant.”
“We’re not going to know for sure until we get all stipend requests,” she said.
The new stipend program calls for three stipend tiers from $30 – $50.
Most employees will begin at the first tier level, though “reasonable justification for establishing a higher tier for some employees from the outset will be considered,” according to the memorandum.
Employees will see those monies expended for cell phone usage refunded on pay day.
Barron said the move is not an attack on employees, and the city is not “taking something away” from them by discontinuing their cell phone usage.
Instead, she said the city is getting out of “the cell phone business.”
“We’re not doing this to take anything away from employees, but phones are not entitlement,” Barron said. “We’re not doing this to harm employees, we’re just taking away a physical device and and adding cash.”
The city currently has 580 cell phones in circulation, according to King’s memo — 379 of those phones are through Sprint and assigned to general employees. The remaining phones are through Verizon, and are assigned to the police department.
The city spends roughly $260,000 annually on cell phones, according to Barron.
Once the reorganization is complete, there will likely be 28 “suggested locations” for city issued cell phones.
The RO plants will each have their own phone, there will be two for waste-water plants, one for the main parks and recreation office, one for parks athletics, four for the parks mini-buses, one for the DCD inspector desk, one for the DCD code office, one for the mail clerk, 10 for fire stations, one for the fire department main office, three for police ISB and one phone for police special ops.
Barron said these phones will be handed off from shift to shift, with each phone being signed out and back in.
With such a small number of city devices, Barron said staff will held to a higher standard for the device’s safety.
“If you’re using the city-owned device and you lose or damage it, you’ll be responsible,” Barron said.
City employees can look forward to the “Cell Phone Vendor Day,” tentatively scheduled for Jan. 20 – 21, when cell phone companies will provide opportunities for employees to sign up for service or have their current city cell phone numbers ported over to their own providers.