Councillors’ cellphone usage being reviewed

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TRURO – Town officials will be taking a closer look into council’s cellphone usage.

During Truro town council’s regular monthly meeting on Monday, council discussed the audit committee’s suggestion to review cellphone usage and how it can be controlled to avoid excessive bills.

“Some (bills) are $75 and some have been as high as $600,” said Coun. Tom Chisholm, who brought the topic forward as a member as the audit committee. “Most of them are about $70 but it’s the public’s money. We have to be transparent.”

Chisholm suggested setting a limit of $100 a month and if a councillor’s bill is more than that, he or she would be responsible for paying the remainder, unless council gives specific permission otherwise.

“If it’s being used for other than council, if you go over you have to pay it yourself … it can’t be personal use,” said Chisholm, adding the idea is to keep “expenses in line and so we can show the public they are in line.”

Chisholm refused to say whose bills were excessive. When asked the same question by the Truro Daily News, Mayor Bill Mills, who is also on the audit committee, said, “there was no policy in the past; we are trying to rectify that ... everybody’s in line right now. It’s been pretty good for the past eight months.”

Coun. Greg MacArthur clarified with this paper that the council cellphone policy was put in place in 2006 and amended in 2013. MacArthur said the town’s cellphone plan is the same for everyone, regardless of whether or not the phones are used. 

During the meeting, chief administrative officer, Jim Langille, said the town now has a plan that includes a monthly texting feature and “thousands of free minutes based on how many phones we have.”

Although Coun. Brian Kinsman said he was “prepared to vote today,” most of council wasn’t ready on Monday to pass a motion reflecting the $100 limit just yet.

“It’s premature to vote on it today. We need to take time if it had to be tweaked,” said Coun. Raymond Tynes, adding council credit cards should be reviewed as well.

Council decided to discuss the topic again next month and make a motion on the issue at that time.

Twitter: tdnMonique

Organizations: Truro town council, Truro Daily News

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