County okays more money for use of personal cell phones on the job

Hays County hopes to cut costs by increasing the county-wide cell phone allowance by $10 a month, a move to encourage employees to use their own cell phones.

On July 17, the Hays County Commissioners Court voted to increase the amount of money provided to employees who use their personal cell phones for work from $35 to $45 a month. It had been at least 15 years since the county had adjusted the cell phone allowance, said Clint Garza, the executive director of Countywide Operations.

“We’re trying to encourage employees to move over to an allowance and off of county-issued phones. Paying $45 is still savings to the county,” Garza said.

Turning in their county phone is not required for employees, but could save a significant amount of money; Garza said the county is looking at paying $9,838 a year if employees do not opt out of the county-issued phones. That cost does not include the time and effort employees spend keeping track of the phones and managing inventory.

“I can’t quantify (that time), but it’s not an effective use of tax dollars. That alone is probably worth the change,” Garza said.

The switch would also mean less liability for the county.

“That works for us in a number of ways. For example, if (Health Department employees) lose their personal device, they would not typically have stored protected health information on it. That’s good for me, because if they lost it, it’s not a HIPA violation,” Garza said.

Garza said it is too early to guess how much money the county will save as a result of its new cell phone policy; it depends on how many employees decide to turn in their county-issued phones in favor of the allowance, and it may take a while to see a difference.

“We’re definitely playing the long game, that way,” he said.

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