We’ve been told the restrooms at Schuylkill County Courthouse aren’t the cleanest in the world. In fact, one person described them as “deplorable”.
And further, they believe the public toilets at the Courthouse pose a risk of spreading COVID and any number of contagious diseases.
So, rather than spend a few bucks for a bucket, cleaning solution, and some rags, Schuylkill County Commissioners voted to do what they do best to fix the problem: They threw a ton of money at it. And not just any money. No, they needed to throw some of that CARES Act money at it.
This is an emergency, after all.
It’s a classic government answer to a government problem.
Schuylkill County Spending Nearly a Quarter-Million Bucks to Install Automatic Flushers and Faucets
Precisely, Commissioners approved a motion on Wednesday to spend $238,000 “to install touch-free plumbing toilets and sinks” at several County-owned bathrooms.
The money is going to Antz Energy Systems, of Shenandoah. The contract with Antz runs from Sept. 5 through the end of the year. We’re not aware of any bidding process for this contract.
Even the biggest critics to the Commissioners say these automatic toilets and sinks are needed. But that’s only true if you think the cleanliness of the county government’s facilities are a pressing issue. You have to spend a lot of time at the Courthouse to think this is an important issue.
And it’s only true if you think the only commonly touched areas in a public restroom are the flush handle and sink knobs.
If that were all true, why stop at automatic flushers and faucets? How about:
- Automatic doors so we don’t have to touch those.
- Jetpacks so our feet don’t have to touch the floor.
- Bidets so we don’t have to, ya know …
The so-called upgrades at these county-owned washrooms only do one thing: put peoples’ minds at ease. They don’t actually improve the cleanliness of the restroom itself.
Going in and actually cleaning the bathrooms with a known virus-killing cleaning solution would work much better and be a heck of a lot cheaper. Seriously, how much does peroxide, water, a small bucket, and a few rags cost? Like, $5?
Reckless CARES Act Spending
The CARES Act money was designed to cover the costs a government or government agency incurred in addition to normal budget expenses to help mitigate COVID-19. Most counties also created their own grant programs to help the many small businesses that actually fund county government operations.
But not in Schuylkill County.
Sure, we purchased tens of thousands of dollars in cleaning supplies but if that’s the case, why are the bathrooms so gross?
On top of the lack of logic behind upgrading the johns at the Courthouse with these automatic flushers is the continued reckless and arrogant use of Schuylkill County’s CARES Act allocation of more than $12.7 million.
Nearly half of that money has gone to upgrade the county’s 9-1-1 system in the event of a COVID outbreak that makes the Pottsville HQ inoperable. So, that’s more than $6 million spent in the event an outbreak of a virus happens where there hasn’t been a single case, that we know of, and somehow makes the entire building unusable.
The County also spent about three-quarters of a million bucks to upgrade the HVAC system at Schuylkill County Prison to mitigate COVID, where there have also been 0 cases reported.
And now, in order to mitigate spread of the coronavirus inside the Courthouse and rather than spend a couple bucks – let’s be liberal and say $20 … actually, make it $50 – the County is going to spend $238,000 to install automatic flushers and faucets.
We still don’t know how much of this $12.7 million the County plans (or doesn’t plan) to distribute to small businesses who applied for its super-secret grant program. We do know that grants were going to be capped at $10,000 per business.
So, for the cost of just these automatic bathroom fixtures alone, another 24 small businesses could have gotten money they desperately needed to stay afloat amid these never-ending pandemic restrictions. In just the costs listed above, about 700 businesses could have received $10,000 each in Schuylkill County.
Instead, the county said what we really need is to stop manually flushing the toilets at the Courthouse bathroom and then flushed all that money for small businesses right down the tubes.
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Photo: Coal Region Canary