The elimination of a half-time custodian at the Piatt County Office Building was part of the approved budget that began Dec. 1, but personnel who occupy offices there have questions.

Such as: Who empties the trash now? And where are the trash bins anyway?

Those and other questions are ones County Highway Engineer Eric Seibring said he hopes to clear up in a letter to PCOB tenants, which include his department.

“At the turn of the year, when the part-time janitor was removed, a lot of the agencies were given no directive, so I was going to work on a letter with the board’s approval to send to the tenants that are out there, to give them some sort of guidance since the county is no longer providing janitorial service,” said Seibring at the Feb. 5 county board building and grounds committee.

“I’ll work on something for review to keep them in the loop,” he added.

In a nutshell, the adjacent nursing home has agreed to provide janitorial service for the common hallways of the PCOB, as well as its two first floor restrooms. But other areas are now on the renters to clean and maintain.

Committee member Bob Murrell wanted clarification on whether the nursing home would be willing to provide even more cleaning for the PCOB, something he thought they might have considered when the janitor was laid off in budget cuts. The move will save an estimated $12,000 per year.

“That’s why I like things to be in writing, because now it’s just two bathrooms and the hallways,” Murrell said.

“I’m not sure it was ever any more than that,” said County Board Chairman Ray Spencer of the nursing home’s offer.

County board member and nursing home committee chairman Randy Shumard confirmed the facility had offered to maintain the common restrooms and hallways, but not individual offices.

“The nursing home is not willing to do that,” he said.

Seibring said the confusion is why a letter needs to go out, adding that he had been asked simple questions such as where trash could be taken. There is a dumpster outside behind the building, it was noted.

Sheriff David Hunt said his part-time custodian is retiring at the end of February, and asked if the county was interested in adding hours to the job description so that a replacement could provide at least limited service to the PCOB.

Spencer admitted that “no maintenance at all on a building is not good for the building. Routine maintenance will prolong the life,” but was not sure if there was money to add services back in.

“Just a couple of months ago the board voted to eliminate the part-time custodian at the Piatt County Office Building, and now we’re talking about putting it back in?” responded Murrell.

Hunt understood that sentiment, but added, “you have to look at both sides. What’s going to fail in the building? Is the place going to be disgustingly filthy because of the lack of oversight for custodial services? That’s not the presentation we want to present.”

Committee members were unsure whether an added janitorial cost could be absorbed in this year’s budget, and made no motion to add PCOB custodial services back in.

The sheriff said he would advertise for a custodian replacement for the jail only unless he hears differently from the board.

Spencer also asked if the courthouse custodian could serve two buildings – the PCOB and the courthouse. Hunt said it is a union post, so work condition changes would likely need to be negotiated.

Lactation room

After considering two possible locations, the committee landed on the courthouse’s third floor women’s lounge as the location for a state-required lactation room. County officials said the space is large enough to divide in order to provide the designated area and keep it private from the lounge area.

Mental health grants

In his report to the board, Mental Health Center Director Tony Kirkman said a $62,500 grant from the state should be received soon for parking lot repair.

“After a lot of posturing and a lot of paperwork being filed, especially since we are relatively close to a designated wetland, we have finally received the award letter,” said Kirkman. “We have contacted four different construction companies and have received bids on the repair work.”

Hopes are that the work can be performed this spring.

Kirkman said a new fire alarm system – also funded by a grant – has been installed. The PCMHC has also received seven free smart thermostats from an Ameren program. An energy audit performed as part of that award showed the mental health center could save about $1,700 annually with the use of LED light bulbs.

The cost to install new bulbs is estimated at $3,000, but County Maintenance Superintendent Doug Winder he could likely lower that outlay by using county staff.

In other action, the committee:

–heard from committee member Shannon Carroll that some companies had been in contact with him about a possible redesign of the county website. He estimated the upfront cost to be about $7,500, in addition to an ongoing yearly maintenance agreement. Carroll said he would gather more information for a possible plan in 2021-22;

–heard from Winder that he has received quotes on fire alarm system work for the Piatt County Office Building. Whether to replace just the main panel or the entire system will likely be discussed by the committee next month;

–was asked by audience member Steve Shreffler if the county board would vote on a resolution to establish Piatt as a second amendment sanctuary county. Most downstate counties have approved such measures. After initially declining to comment, County Board Chairman Ray Spencer said the resolution would likely be on this Thursday’s county board agenda.