Rhoades: Try paycheck deduction in Shamokin worker cell phone issue
SHAMOKIN - A city councilman offered up a "employee cell phone user agreement" as a compromise to allow all employees to remain on the city's cell phone plan at a discounted rate.
R. Craig Rhoades says employees could sign an agreement to have their monthly balances deducted directly from their paychecks. Any approved equipment purchases or upgrades would have to be paid by credit card at the time of purchase under his proposal, which he presented during Wednesday's workshop session.
Employees would have 30 days to exit the city plan if they retire or leave their jobs.
All city employees were invited last year to join the city cell phone plan through Verizon Wireless, which offered a 23 percent savings over individual plans. Direct relatives to employees also qualified.
Under the current arrangement, employees are required to pay City Hall for their portion of a single cell phone bill. A previous attempt at an automatic payroll deduction arrangement failed.
Steve Bartos, city clerk, has estimated a City Hall secretary spends six hours each week acting as a collections agent. There had been 10 delinquencies as of January since the cell phone arrangement with Verizon Wireless began last summer.
An alternative would be to seek a previously proposed 18-percent employee discount through Verizon where employees are billed individually.
Bartos sought advice from legal counsel of Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) on the matter. In an e-mailed response, a department representative advised the city to allow employees the choice to opt into Verizon's voluntary program with the 18 percent discount.
DCED raised concerns of mixing personal and professional accounts, potential conflicts in the event of a billing dispute and Right to Know Law questions about whether or not personal account information would be considered public.
A motion to remove all "non-essential employees" from the cell phone plan was withdrawn in January and the matter has twice been tabled for further discussion.
On Wednesday, Councilman Bill Milbrand maintained his position that employees simply should have to pay their own bill, and Mayor George Rozinskie said cell phone billing has caused too much unnecessary work for City Hall.
Rhoades disagreed on both accounts and said he hoped the matter would not be voted on Tuesday to allow for further discussion.