City cell phone policy being reviewed

Published 12:02 am Monday, April 7, 2014

NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez is considering adopting a policy that provides guidelines for cell phone use by employees.

The city does not have a cell phone policy, and Information Technology Director Ed Bowser recently presented a draft policy to the board of aldermen.

“Policies are important to have in place just so you can clearly spell out what the rules are for using city devices,” Bowser said.

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The city funds cell phones for 30 of its employees, most of which are law enforcement officials and department heads.

The draft policy is fairly general, Bowser said, so the aldermen can make suggestions about specifics they want addressed.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis said the city has run into problems in the past with employees using their phones for personal reasons while at work.

“We’ve had some issues where people have been accused of calling folks and arguing about domestic issues,” she said.

Arceneaux-Mathis said she wants the policy to make clear that employees should not make or receive non-emergency personal calls while at work.

Arceneaux-Mathis said she also wants the policy to include guidelines on the use of smartphones, particularly Internet browsing.

“We want to make sure when you’re on city time, you’re carrying on city business,” she said. “And we also want to make sure that everything that is done on these phones is of a professional nature, and anything pulled up on the Internet is related to your job.”

The draft policy, Bowser said, outlines that employees should not make personal calls on their city phones while at work, use the phone while driving or text while driving, among other guidelines. The policy also ensures employees know if they become no longer employed by the city, they must turn in their phone.

Bowser said he is not aware of issues with employees misusing phones and running up bills.

“We don’t anticipate any,” he said. “It’s just always good to have a policy in place.”

Bowser recently reviewed the city’s cell phone bills and found no unnecessary or “outrageous” charges, he said. The cell phone bills, along with the city’s other utility bills, were recently audited by an independent company, which found the city was mistakenly being charged tax on some accounts.

“C Spire was able to go in there and immediately credit us for those charges,” Bowser said.

Board members are expected to discuss the policy at Tuesday’s meeting in the Natchez City Council Chambers. The finance meeting begins at 9:30 a.m., following by the regular meeting at 11 a.m.