There’s No Excuse For This

August 17, 2019 Off By Jay Hubbard

Earlier this month, among the flood of emails I receive daily from our municipal office, I started seeing messages like the one reproduced below. Sprint is the mobile telephone carrier that the Town of Ramseur contracts with for mobile voice and data services. The first alerts I saw said that 75% of our shared mobile data allowance of 1 gigabyte (1GB) per month had been used.

These notices continued to trickle in over the next several days, eventually followed by a series of emails from Commissioners Overman and Caudle, and whoever is using now Bobbie Hatley’s old email account. It’s unclear if the former clerk still has access to it (she shouldn’t) because she continues to do contract work such as payroll and an insurance audit.

If Ms. Hatley still had a mobile phone provided by the town it should no longer be in use, unless it has been assigned to someone else such as Jill Wood. I have seen many messages from Ms. Hatley’s old email account, as well as others sent from a new account labelled simply ‘townclerk’ since she departed.

Incidentally, during our private meeting recorded on Friday, August 16, Grant Cheek stated that the only work he does in the municipal office is water billing, but later said that lately he’s “doing all kinds of things,” including writing checks, since we don’t have a town clerk right now. When I questioned him about Mrs. Wood’s role in the office he stated that she only comes in to relieve him for lunch each day, which can easily proven untrue any number of emails.

The data usage warnings kept arriving. Commissioner Caudle asked who had the phone in question. That leads me to believe that at least in recent history that this has not been a problem.

She received a response from the Bobbie Hatley email account.

Finally, David Overman chimed in.

Why is the Town of Ramseur still using mobile phones with usage limits like this in 2019? I’ve been using mobile phones for voice, text, and data in my business since about 2010 and I have never had a contract with limits on any services. Today I use a plan that costs me $50 per month, with unlimited everything. No limits.

This is the kind of thing a competent town administrator should be looking at every year in preparation of new budgets, especially in a place like Ramseur where literally every dime of revenue collected or spent matters. As to the question of which town employee is suddenly using way too much data on their device, and this hasn’t been an issue before, my theory is that it’s a new employee.

If Suez (public works) is using phones we pay for that needs to end; they should supply their own communications. A discussion during a recent meeting about a worker’s compensation audit made it sound as if the Town of Ramseur is covering that bill for Suez as well. I haven’t looked into that because the idea of our local government paying business insurance premiums for an outside contractor is pretty ridiculous. Then again, I’ve seen plenty of other dumb ideas fly around here, so who knows?

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