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Spicer to adopt city-issued cell phone policy for staff

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SPICER -- The Spicer City Council will examine a policy regarding city-issued cell phone use by its employees.

Councilman Troy Block of Spicer's Personnel Committee presented the first draft of the policy to the City Council during Wednesday's regular meeting.

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"This is exactly what the city of Chanhassen uses," Block said, referring to the policy. "So that's for your reading for the next couple of weeks."

Block said the Personnel Committee hoped the council would note any necessary revisions.

The main guidelines in the policy focus on the personal usage of city-issued cell phones.

According to the draft, employees with city-issued cell phones "may make necessary personal telephone calls during non-business hours." However, the policy recommends minimal personal use.

The city will pay for the basic calling and text message plan as long as personal calls do not cause the employee's monthly bill to exceed the cell phone's calling plan. If a monthly bill exceeds the plan due to personal calls, the employee would have to reimburse the city the dollar value of those calls.

The draft also indicates that any employee with a city-issued cell phone must be readily available for any and all emergency calls that may occur.

The plan also states that the city would decide what degree of calling plan is required.

Discussion about adopting a cell phone policy was introduced late last year.

During a December 2007 council meeting, Mayor Perry Wohnoutka addressed some roaming charges on a cell phone bill for Public Works Director Dan Haats. According to Tribune archives, Wohnoutka said the charges were from calls made by Haats during a vacation in Colorado.

At a later meeting, Haats said that previous council members had granted him the privilege to make personal calls on his city-issued cell phone as his duties require him to be on call for any emergency, even while on vacation.

Wohnoutka readdressed the issue during the council's Sept. 23 special meeting. There, the mayor provided documents containing the bills for city-issued cell phones. He asked the council to review minutes used by city staff.

Haats responded to the request by tossing his cell phone at the mayor and telling him he could have it. Block said Wednesday that the Personnel Committee verbally disciplined Haats for his actions.

The council plans to adopt the cell phone policy during its Oct. 22 regular meeting.

In other business:

- The council approved the hiring of St. Cloud attorney Paul Rajkowski as the city's mediator as it works to resolve numerous concerns within city hall. City Attorney Barry Darval said Rajkowski was recommended by the League of Minnesota Cities and is a qualified mediator on the Alternative Dispute Resolution Neutral Roster of the Minnesota Judicial Branch. Rajkowski's practice specializes in employment, Darval said.

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