The Butler County Board of Commissioners approved the Detention Facility Revenue Incentive Policy at the county commission meeting on Tuesday, July 11.
"What this does is set out a formulation for rewarding the employees of the facility for going above and beyond with their work efforts and the fact that, when we exceed budgeted revenues for the jail, it means we've got a lot more inmates at the jail than we normally do. So this process, or this policy, would not cost the county any money. The budget would be paid for out of excess revenues that were created through housing," County Administrator William Johnson said.
The policy aims to align the operations at the Butler County Jail with county tax payers by incentivizing the jail and its staff to focus on housing revenue-generating inmates in a safe and efficient manner. This could also help retain staff.
According to the policy, all detention facility employees will be offered a bonus payment based on the total, actual non-tax revenue received in the prior year, the budget year, compared to the budgeted amount for the prior year in the detention fund, with the following details:
• Twenty-five percent of every dollar that the jail revenue exceeds the budgeted revenue amount in any given year will be split equally amongst eligible detention facility employees.
• The bonus payment will be capped at $2,000 per detention facility employee.
• Staff bonuses will be reduced based on the following schedule: Employees hired on or before December 31 of the year before the budget year will receive 100 percent of the bonus. Employees hired on or before March 31 of the budget year will receive 75 percent of the bonus. Employees hired on or before June 30 of the budget year will receive 50 percent of the bonus. Employees hired on or before September 30 of the budget year will receive 25 percent of the bonus. Employees hired on or after October 1 of the budget year will not receive the bonus.
Detention Captain Eric Ramsey updated the board of commissioners on the status of understaffing at the jail and the current inmate count. He said the facility is eight employees short. According to the Detention Officer Retention Incentive Program, which started February 1 and terminates Dec. 31, 2018, the goal is to have less than six staff vacancies after 210 days, about seven months, from February 1. The inmate count is around 180, which brings in roughly $5,400 in daily revenue. Ideally, the jail would need to make $6,500 in daily revenue to be on budget. When the 210-day staffing goal is met, the Butler County Sheriff's Office plans to increase the housing and revenue numbers to the current budgeted revenue of $6,500 daily within 60 days of reaching that goal. Mandatory overtime at the jail is a couple times a month now, which is manageable compared to what it was when the jail was 16 employees short in 2016 and the beginning of 2017.
Later in the meeting, Emergency Communications Director Chris Davis requested approval for an additional radio tower site near Douglass.
A one-fourth-cent sales tax was approved by voters in 2009 to implement a new county-wide radio system. This $13.2 million project included replacing all emergency responder radios and constructing a six-site simulcast radio infrastructure that is tied to the Kansas Department of Transportation’s wide-area network. The sales tax will expire at the end of 10 years, which would be April 2020, or when the debt is paid off – whichever comes first. Current projections indicate the debt will be paid off in March of 2018. Emergency responders in the Rose Hill and Douglass areas have expressed concern that coverage in their community is problematic. These reports indicated that they cannot communicate from inside most buildings and have problems communicating from various locales outside as well. Several options concerning the radio system were discussed at the June 6 county commission meeting, and Davis was instructed to return with more detailed information on this particular project. He brought a contract with Motorola Solutions, Inc. to the July 11 meeting for the additional radio tower site.
"The contract would install a full-tilt simulcast site at a tower near Douglass. It's just east of Douglass on Southwest 215th .... Pioneer Cellular has allowed us to use that particular site since about '99 [or] 2000 – somewhere in there is when we built that tower. And we've had a small presence, mostly paging, on that tower site since that time. So, we're talking about adding quite a bit of equipment to that site," Davis said.
Motorola has offered a discount if Butler County executes the contract by August 16. Delaying past that date would forfeit the discount of $31,573. The sales tax generates approximately $190,000 per month. The cost associated with adding this simulcast site in Douglass is $576,888, which could be funded by delaying the early sunset of the sales tax by three months.
The board of county commissioners approved the contract with Motorola for the addition of the radio system tower near Douglass, paid by sales tax funds, and authorized chairman Jeff Masterson to sign.
It'll take about a month from now to get the equipment in for the tower site and three or four weeks after that to install it.
After a five-minute break, Facilities Management Director Dan Ingalls addressed the board concerning the already-approved bid for a chair lift to be installed in the county's east annex building. A chair lift system would help people who use wheelchairs. Ingalls informed the commissioners that he found out the bid of $22,155 awarded to Howard Distribution for the purchase and installation of the chair lift was only for one of the stairs – when the project is for two stairways, with a lift being able to go down and also go up. Therefore, the cost would have to be doubled if the county decides to continue with Howard Distribution for the project.
"So as it stands right now, we are not doing that project," Ingalls said.
Following Ingalls' report, the board of commissioners held a publication and setting of public hearing for the proposed 2018 county budget and 2018 fire district budgets. Assistant County Administrator and Finance Director Ryan Adkison discussed the mill levy and fire district budgets. He explained that the 2018 budget has a decreased mill levy of 34.727, compared to the 2017 mill of 35.747. The 2018 budget represents the eighth consecutive mill levy decrease, dating back to 2011, where the preceding year's mill was 36.522. Adkison also reported that, of the nine fire districts the county commissioners levy a tax for, three will exceed the tax limit, which requires the passing of a resolution and a notice of vote thereafter. The board approved the publishing of the proposed 2018 county operating budget and 2018 fire district budgets as presented and set a public hearing date for July 25 at 9 a.m.
In the public comments part of the meeting, Andover resident Joe Ammann expressed concerns about his neighbors and the enforcement of building codes. County Commissioner Dan Woydziak directed Ammann to file a civil suit if he's not happy with the situation.
During the other items of business segment of the meeting, Woydziak informed the rest of the board of commissioners that a friend of his, former Rose Hill mayor and council member Bob Klem, passed away June 29 after a bout with cancer.
"I just wanted to let you know that we lost a very good leader in that community," Woydziak said.
Johnson also mentioned that Lee Parker, attorney and retired municipal court judge, passed away July 9.
"Lee has been around forever and was a great, great person," Johnson said.
Opening proposals for replacing the county's Wi-Fi network and network access control was another item of business on the agenda for Tuesday's meeting, but it was tabled for a week because Chief Information Officer Scott Stoskopf had only received one bid for the project so far.