Phone Changes To Save County $16K

Renegotiation of its cell phone plan will save Worcester County thousands every
year, staff reported this week.

Savings should add up to
more than $16,000 a year.

The idea was originally
proposed by Budget Officer Kathy Whited in an employee contest to suggest ways
to make the county more efficient. Whited’s idea was judged the best of the 167

Barbara Hitch and Dave
Fitzgerald of the Worcester County Government Efficiency Committee spearheaded
the cell phone savings effort.

“Both of them have been
a fantastic help,” said deputy county administrator Kelly Shanahan.

“It’s a really rather
complicated process,” said county administrator Gerry Mason.

Fitzgerald and Hitch
went through every cell phone account held by the county and then worked with
provider Verizon to consolidate all county cell phones under one umbrella plan.

Under the new umbrella
plan, cell phone minutes will be shared across all Worcester County employees,
not just among the employees in each separate department.

“This is just step one
of the cell phone plan,” said Shanahan.

The Efficiency Committee
also created a tip sheet for employees on reducing phone expenses, such as
calling other county employees through the county phone system by extension,
which is free, instead of dialing the full number, which costs 10 cents.

Sometimes, Shanahan
said, employees can save money by using cell phones instead of landlines.
Employees are also encouraged to call from Verizon cell phone to Verizon cell
phone, which costs no money or minutes.

At times, it costs less
to call long distance on a cell phone, according to the tip sheet, which
currently includes 12 best practices.

Text messaging and other
special capabilities will only be extended to employees with a need for those
options in their work.

“With these guidelines,
I think they’ll really help a lot,” said Commissioner Judy Boggs.

“We’re going to have
more as time goes on,” said Shanahan.

Most county departments
were very receptive to the changes, Fitzgerald said.

“A lot of it is the
departments are aware we’re looking at the cell phone bills,” said Hitch.

“This is never going to
stop. This has to be an ongoing process,” Fitzgerald said.