TUPELO • More than two weeks since Tony Roper’s term of office ended, the former Lee County supervisor still has possession of taxpayer-owned equipment, including a cellphone and a 911 radio.
Bill Benson, the interim county administrator, said he has been in conversation with Roper and expects that the former county official will return the equipment once he has obtained a new phone for personal use.
For the moment, Benson said he’s not alarmed that county equipment remains in Roper’s possession.
“We’re only talking a couple weeks out at this point. It’s not a big deal,” Benson said. “It’s not something he’s trying to keep. He’s going to get his own phone.”
The county-owned iPhone X Roper currently has remains in service through the county’s phone plan. That means Roper continues to receive cellular service at the taxpayer’s expense.
Benson said the county pays a monthly fee per service line, which amounts to $39.94 per line. The county has approximately 48 phone lines.
Benson is not certain, but anticipates that when the phone is returned the county will terminate service to the line, depending on any contractual details. The county will likely keep the phone itself on hand as a spare.
There were likely no savings to reap from Roper’s line for the month of January, according to Benson. That is because new terms for county officials did not begin until Jan. 6.
“He was still there for the first of the month, so we’re going to be paying the bill for January so it’s no major catastrophe,” Benson said.
Roper’s successor in office, Todd Jordan, has been issued his own publicly-owned cell phone.
The 911 radio Roper possesses is used to monitor emergency communications. Each supervisor is issued one. Jordan does not yet have such a radio.
“It lets them stay up to date on what’s going on if that’s what they want to do. If they want to listen to it, they can. I have no idea how much they use it,” Benson said. “And in case of a disaster they would have access to all the channels. Should something happen that knocked out all the cell towers, they’ve got a way to communicate.”
In addition to a county-issued phone and radio, each supervisor drives a taxpayer-owned truck. Benson confirmed that Roper did return the truck.
Roper served a single term as the District 2 county supervisor. He was defeated in a Republican primary last year by Jordan.
Messages seeking comment from Roper were not returned on Wednesday.