The city of Los Angeles pays millions in cell phone bills. Laguna Niguel? A little more than $3,000 per month.
Of course, L.A. pays for service for about 12,000 phones, and Laguna Niguel pays for 56.
Gov. Jerry Brown's recent demand that the state reduce its cell phone budget. L.A. is seeking to lower its massive bill too.
Laguna Niguel doesn't face the same kind of crisis. According to the city's director of finance, Cheryl Dyas, many of the 56 city-issued phones float between department members. The total monthly cost for the phones is $3,275—an average of $58 per phone. That reflects an increase of $8,568 over the past two years.
According to Dyas, the higher cost is because of the increased use of BlackBerries and their Internet access.
Laguna Niguel has 57 full-time employees and 60 part-time employees. In comparison, the city of Redondo Beach has more than 450 employees, even though its population is similar to Laguna Niguel's—both a little more than 60,000.
Laguna Niguel has a smaller workforce because it outsources most of its work, saving on expenses such as benefits and incidentals—including cell phones.
Not every city employee is upgrading to a new BlackBerry. City Manager Tim Casey said he is still sporting an older style Sprint flip-style cell phone. It even has an antenna.
"I don't use my phone much," he said. "I don't even check my messages on this particular phone very often."
However, there is one feature of his phone that he uses often and finds vital to the management of the city.
"Our phones have the walkie-talkie feature the comes with Nextel," Casey said. "I can connect with other employees immediately with it. It comes in handy for our emergency preparedness plan."
Casey said the city has a strict policy against personal phone calls. So he writes a check to the city every month for any personal calls made from his phone.
"Every month, when we get our statements, we go through our bills and count the minutes up from any personal calls that we make. We multiply those minutes by 40 cents each and then write a check to the city to pay for those calls," he said.