SANTEE — Council members in Santee and Oceanside are the only city officials in San Diego County who receive free home Internet access – a perk that has some people concerned.
While the majority of the council members in the county get free Internet access at their office, some say it is unfair that taxpayers have to pay for their services at home as well.
Santee Councilman Jim Bartell, who declined the free Internet service, said getting such a perk is a waste of money.
“I think it’s an inappropriate use of city funds,” Bartell said. “I don’t think it’s necessary to do the job.”
However, many city officials say the service is used to prepare of upcoming meetings and they use it to download important information, such as crime statistics from the San Diego Association of Governments’ Web site.
Oceanside Councilwoman Betty Harding sees home Internet access as an important way to stay in touch with the city staff and constituents. She uses it to dial up city budgets and council agendas.
“As far as I’m concerned, 95 percent of the work I do on my home computer is for the City Council, so I don’t consider it a perk,” Harding said. “If I wasn’t on the City Council, I wouldn’t have a computer.”
Santee Mayor Randy Voepel said home access ranges from $22 to $50 per month and is a legitimate business expense. He said he never uses the account for personal use.