Commissioners clamp down on county-provided cellphones

Centre County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to discontinue county-provided cellphones to non-county employees, specifically state employees, by July 1.

The decision came after a similar motion to discontinue the service was tabled last week.

The motion would mainly affect members of the judiciary, commissioners said, particularly a handful of judges who use the county-issued phones.

Other judges have been looking at alternate cellphone arrangements, county Administrator Tim Boyde said. Judge Thomas King Kistler said he was in favor of it, according to an email Boyde said he received Tuesday from the president judge.

“Some (judges) have already moved to separate plans,” Boyde said, “and other individuals are in the process of identifying a local carrier.”

Kistler requested special consideration for newly appointed court administrator Kendra Miknis, he said, saying she may need a phone to conduct her duties. This is something the commissioners can consider moving forward.

Boyde confirmed there are nine cellphones that would be affected by the motion: the phones held by judges Kistler, Pamela A. Ruest and Bradley P. Lunsford; senior judges David E. Grine and Charles C. Brown Jr.; district judges Allen Sinclair, Leslie Dutchcot and Tom Jordan; and possibly the phone held by Miknis.

Commissioners couldn’t say how much ending these phone plans would save the county.

Cellphones are the only resource commissioners are looking at ending, Boyde said, as they are seen as an uncommon benefit not in common practice with other counties surveyed. There are no plans to remove any other systems as the county is required to provide ongoing office support for the judiciary to continue court functions.