Sioux Falls, SD
How does a $21,000 cell phone bill sound to you? That's how much taxpayers paid last month so Sioux Falls employees can talk and text.
New Mayor Mike Huether says one in two Sioux Falls city employees has a cell phone and it's an issue that needs to be addressed. Huether says he's going to be scrutinizing the more than 500 phones the city pays for as he writes his first budget.
The new mayor says he's going to take a hard look at the talking and texting in the city funded by taxpayers' money. Five hundred of the 1,100 Sioux Falls city employees have a cell phone, and some of them have more than your basic plan.
One-hundred eighteen of the city phones are smartphones, or Blackberries, that cost $25 more a month. City officials say department heads, directors, and key mangers are the only ones who have those devices, the rest of the employees have basic phones and packages.
But how do other cities compare with Sioux Falls? Fargo, North Dakota:
Fargo has a similar ratio to Sioux Falls. Three hundred of the 750 full-time employees there have cell phones, meaning nearly one out of every two city employees has a phone. Fargo's total bill every year is $140 thousand. Sioux City, Iowa:
Sioux City says it has 185 cell phones for the 800 people who work there, or one about out of every four city employees. At $30 per phone every month the annual bill in Sioux City is around $67,000. Mankato, Minnesota:
Mankato, Minnesota says it has 200 city employees and almost all of them have cell phones. Officials say they try to focus on customer service and the phones help them respond to calls and concerns quickly and efficiently.
Mayor Huether says in Sioux Falls he's still trying to figure out how many phones the city can afford to lose, and how much money it would save. The police department is the department with the most phones. They use 136 cell phones, but half of those are standard equipment with every marked patrol car. The police department is also the largest department in the city.