LAPORTE — Up until this year, the Sullivan County government’s payroll was all done by hand. Employees had to manually fill out a time sheet for each pay period showing how many hours they had worked.
Now, the Sullivan County government has a new way of keeping track of how many hours its employees work each week.
Each employee has been assigned his or her own employee number, which the employee types into a time clock when they begin or end their shift. And then, before leaving the time clock, the employee inserts the end of one of their fingers into the time clock so that the machine can scan their fingerprint, to verify which employee is clocking in or out, says Sullivan County Commissioner Wylie S. Norton.
“Now we no longer use manual time sheets,” said Arthur Cairns, who works as a technical assistant for the county. “Everything is done, for the most part, electronically.”
The new time clocks make the payroll system more efficient and will save the county money, the Sullivan County commissioners said.
The county has leased five of the new time clocks from Hillman Time Systems Inc. of Luzerne, Pa., Norton said. The monthly cost to the county is $3 per employee, Norton said.
The time clocks were installed last fall in the Sullivan County Courthouse, the county’s Agricultural Resources Center, and in the emergency management building.
The time clocks are mounted on walls, and each is approximately 8 inches wide, 6 inches tall, and 1 ½ inches thick.
Each time an employee clocks in or out, the machine uploads the information over a secure Internet connection to a server at a remote location, Cairns said. The uploaded data will later be processed by the county’s payroll software.
The time clocks double as a kind of kiosk where the employees can “log in” — using their unique employee number and a fingerprint scan — to view how many vacation days, sick days, and personal days they’ve taken, Cairns said.
The new system is not entirely automatic, as employees still need to manually fill out an “adjustment sheet” when they take vacation days, sick days, or personal days, Cairns said.
For a couple of months after the time clocks were installed, employees continued to manually fill out time sheets while they acclimated themselves to the new system.
“We wanted to get the employees used to it … and make sure (the time clocks) were working as they should be. And they are (working correctly),” Cairns said.
On Jan. 1, the county switched over completely to using the new time clocks and discontinued using the manual time sheets, he said.
Brian L Hoffman, who works for the county as a data collector in the Assessment Office, said: “I feel it (the new time clock) is easy to use. 
“I feel it is an accurate, reliable, unbiased, and accountable method of tracking” the hours employees are at work, he said.
“We had some bugs initially,” including a problem where fingerprints weren’t being recognized, Hoffman also said.
But Cairns said the problem of fingerprints not being recognized was easy to fix.  It was just a matter of “re-enrolling” the employee and their fingerprint in the system, he said.
Cairns said that all the bugs in the system have been worked out. 
Cairns said that many businesses use the type of time clock that the county is now using.