Although fears Miami County’s coroner would deplete the 2017 budget for body removals due to the opioid epidemic didn’t materialize, the contract amount for removals this year was increased substantially in hopes of avoiding similar concerns.
The county commissioners discussed the proposed new agreement with Cron Mortuary Services of Fletcher to provide body transport services for Dr. William Ginn, coroner, before approving it Thursday, Feb. 15.
The agreement in 2017 was $10,000. The agreement for this year was upped to $25,000, said Angie Hubbard, special projects coordinator for the county auditor’s office. She handles the financials for the coroner’s office.
The budget was watched closely in 2017 after the county experienced a record number of overdose deaths in January. The increased continued until about mid-year, then declined in the final months of 2017.
The year 2017, however, saw a record number of overdose deaths for the county. Ginn said in his annual report there were 31 confirmed and two suspected overdose deaths. The previous record was 20, set in 2016.
Of the money budgeted for 2017, $8,200 was spent by year’s end with the remaining $1,800 carried over to this year with possible use for bills incurred last year but not received until after the first of this year, Hubbard said.
A portion of the additional money this year was for a “slight” increase in Cron’s fee to cover a second person for body removals, as needed.
Hubbard said the request was based on the need at times for help loading the body. The assistance in the past often was provided by law enforcement officers, who now are less willing to help, she said.
Commissioner John “Bud” O’Brien said he was told by Cron’s owner last year that the less willingness to assist was due to liability and other insurance concerns.