Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann says she couldn't have wrapped up negotiations to convince Frito-Lay Inc. to build a plant inthe county without her cellular car phone.
"Decisions had to be made quickly, so I was talking on my car phone to Frito-Lay officials on their car phones," said Rehrmann, who also carries a cellular phone in her purse.
"Having the car phone allows me to use my travel time," said Rehrmann.
The county executive is among a growing number of governmentofficials in the region taking advantage of mobile cellular telephone technology to get government business done.
Harford owns six cellular telephones.
The phone in the Harford executive's car was installed during former County Executive Habern W. Freeman's administration.
James Terrell, chief of emergency operations for the county, also has a cellular phone, purchased with federal money.
The four other cellular telephones were bought this year. Of those four phones, three were purchased with federal money through the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program.
The CSEP program is designed to help counties where mustard agent is stored make emergency plans inthe event of an accident involving the agent, said James Terrell, chief of emergency operations for Harford. Mustard agent is stored at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
"I felt the phones were imperative and thefederal officials agreed," said Terrell.
He ordered a purse-size phone for Rehrmann, and standard size mobile phones for Larry Klimovitz, director of administration, and George Harrison, public information officer.
"I have to have immediate access to the executive, thedirector of administration and the public information officer in theevent of an emergency," said Terrell.
"I can't wait 20 minutes ora half-hour until they can find a pay phone to call me back.
"Decisions have to be made immediately," said the emergency operations chief.
A fourth cellular telephone was purchased for about $1,100 with
county money and is used by the law department, Klimovitz said.
The law department's average cellular telephone bill is $49 per month, he said.
Rehrmann's average cellular phone bill is $85.72 per month, and Klimovitz's average cellular phone bill is $38.06 a month.
Harrison pays his own cellular phone bill and is not reimbursedby the county, Klimovitz said.
Rehrmann says she finds herself using the mobile phones on a routine basis to get government issues solved.
The mobile phone proved useful just this past week, the executive said as she was en route to North Bend Elementary School Monday for a ceremony.
"It was brought to my attention there was a problem with signs for the school crossing, and I noticed the buses were having a hard time making a turn coming into the school."
With two quick phone calls from her car, Rehrmann had the traffic division working on getting signs for the crosswalk and the engineering division looking at a new design for the intersection.
John Lutz, director of Baltimore County's central services department said his department has issued 10 car phones distributed among the following personnel: the executive and county administrator, sheriff, state's attorney, andthree members of the Baltimore County Council.
The cellular phonebill for 10 telephones ranges from $250 to $500 a month, Lutz said.
He said other departments may have more cellular phones, paid for from their own budgets.