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Butler County installing touchless equipment at government building to lessen COVID-19 spread

Posted at 8:42 AM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 08:42:23-04

Butler County is investing about $625,000 in touchless equipment aimed at protections against the coronavirus and a time logging system that will be more efficient.

The commissioners approved two resolutions this week using federal CARES Act funds to install touchless faucets and toilets in the busy Government Services Center, Historic Courthouse, Administration Center and Juvenile Justice Center. Maintenance Supervisor Rick Couch said about 174 toilets and 140 sinks will be installed when equipment arrives next month.

The cost for the restroom conversion is $200,000 and the commissioners also approved $425,153 for a new touchless Kronos timecard system.

The county jail is one of the largest facilities the county owns, but sheriff’s office Chief Deputy Tony Dwyer said the touchless system wouldn’t work very well in jail cells and cost more because the facility has hundreds of cells.

“Each cell in our facility has a sink and a toilet and they’re a combined unit that’s stainless, and is operated with a push button that’s specific to jails,” Dwyer told the Journal-News. “If you had faucets you could just turn on inmates would just turn them on and let them run. So you have to have a way to control that.”

The county received $18.7 million in CARES funding last year, and the commissioners identified projects like these as worthy expenses of the money that was supposed to help governments battle the coronavirus. Around $9.2 million was moved to the general fund for salaries but can be used on COVID-19 projects.

County Administrator Judi Boyko said going into 2021 — deadlines for spending were extended beyond the original year-end deadline — about $6.5 million was left in the CARES fund, but $4 million of that was previously earmarked for specific projects by the commissioners. The remaining $2.5 million has been encumbered or spent.

IT Director Eric Fletcher estimated 80% or more of the county uses the Kronos system that will be upgraded with the new software for timekeeping. Previously employees had to punch a keypad, but the new system will recognize employees’ badges. He said it could take the rest of the year to implement.

County Auditor Roger Reynolds’ office is in charge of payroll countywide. He said the new system will be beneficial especially in this COVID-19 work environment, in which many employees are working remotely and will use an app to register their time.

“It is a more robust system that allows flexibility that you can clock-in, clock-out and not have to be at a station within the office,” Reynolds said. “There’s plenty of jobs around the county where people are out working in the field and may not need to come into the office to clock-in and then leave again.”

Boyko presented the commissioners with these projects recently as well as automating the “Stone Age” parking garage and a court consolidation project the judges requested. The commissioners generally support the parking garage project and it should be done sometime this year.

Combining two visiting judge courtrooms into one big one, they said, needs further discussion.