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Cape reinstates cell phones for inspectors

By Staff | Jan 14, 2012

The city has decided to return cell phones to its building inspectors, according to Heather Mazurkiewicz, executive director of the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association.

The move restores some normalcy to the building process, she said, allowing for a regular line of communication between builders and inspectors.

“City staff and their inspectors worked as hard as they could but their ability to communicate was very limited,” Mazurkiewicz added.

Former city manager Gary King eliminated most city-provided cell phones last year as a cost-saving measure, a decision that was controversial at the time.

He instead implemented a cell phone stipend program for city employees to be reimbursed for use of their personal mobile devices on city time.

The program was optional and not all employees took part.

City officials could not be reached for comment Friday. Nor is it clear how much money was saved with the stipend program or how much extra it will cost the city to reinstate the phones.

Under the previous policy, building inspectors were communicating via two-way devices with city hall, which would relay messages from builders, according to Mazurkiewicz.

That system was not only confusing, she said, but also caused builders to face unnecessary fines simply because they could not get in touch with the inspectors in a timely manner.

“The cell phones were paid for through permit fees and we, as the customer, wanted the cell phones back,” she said.

Mazurkiewicz praised the effort of interim City Manager Steve Pohlman and city building official Paul Dickson for their efforts to return cell phones to inspectors.

“The interim city manager recognized the fact that the city wants to be perceived as a business friendly environment. Returning the cell phones was a simple way to show they really are business friendly,” she said.