Coroner Says Increased Caseload Prompted Request For More Money
The Tippecanoe County Council has appropriated an additional $80,000 for the Coroner’s Office.
Coroner Donna Avolt says they have already spent more than $78,000 on autopsies this year, compared to roughly $64,000 for all of last year.
She says she doesn’t expect the caseload to ease up at all.
Avolt says this has been a rough year, with numerous drug-related deaths, fatal fires, and a homicide.
“We are also seeing a greater number of children dying. That is our biggest concern," says Avolt. "Small children, with co-sleeping. Because it is a child, it has to be autopsied, we have to have toxicology, as well as the volume of paperwork that’s involved in that.”
In addition to autopsies, Avolt says the additional money will help cover the cost of body transfers, deputy coroners who earn $100 per case, and some part-time help.
She says there is no way to predict whether she will need more money before the end of the year.
Council member Bryan Metzger says he trusts the Coroner is being conservative in her estimates and really needs the additional funding.
“It’s a tough call, it really is, because it’s so variable in these expenses from year to year," says Metzger. "But, it’s been a rough year.”
Metzger says the need for more money this year doesn’t necessarily translate into a larger budget to start of next year.
He says County officials will look at the numbers from the last few years during budget hearings next month before making a decision about funding for 2015.