PLAISTOW — Selectmen have the option of taking a technological step forward but not all of the members of the board are likely to take it.
At this week’s board meeting, members agreed to let selectmen use town-issued smartphones for town business if they so choose.
“I had suggested to the town previously that board members, as employees, have a responsibility to stay informed and keep abreast of town business 24/7,” said Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald. “We have funding in the executive budget that I could identify that could help board members have access to a smartphone. Obviously, this would be town equipment, and board members would be responsible for it as town staff are for town equipment.”
Fitzgerald said he first made the smartphone recommendation to the board two years ago as part of the budget process, but there was not an interest in moving forward with it at that time.
“I know we did this once before and at the time nobody felt they needed one, but times change,” said Dan Poliquin, chairman of the board of selectmen.
Selectman Steve Ranlett said selectmen currently have personal numbers listed as contact numbers. He said it might be easier for some selectmen if they had a dedicated phone and number for town business.
Selectman John Sherman said he was not interested in having a smartphone but would go along with the consensus of the board.
“I’ve been a selectman for 13 years, and it hasn’t ever really been an issue with me,” Sherman said. “I don’t even have a cellphone.”
Poliquin said he was not interested in having a town-issued smartphone, but would be fine with other members having one if they felt they had the need.
“If a member of the board feels like they need that support, it makes a lot of sense,” said Fitzgerald. “A lot of communities do offer the members of their boards that service.”
Fitzgerald reiterated that the smartphones would be for town business only and that the phone records could be reviewed on a monthly basis.
The board agreed that members could request a smartphone for town business on an individual email@example.com