Warren County Temporary Morgue’s operating budget for 2020-21 will increase by $55,000.
According to EMS director Preston Denney, who’s department oversees the facility where bodies are kept until they are identified or claimed, those funds will be used to cover the cost of autopsies when they are needed.
“The cost for autopsies used to come from the Circuit Court Clerk’s office,” said Denney to members of the county Safety Committee. “We’ve decided that it really should come from the morgue’s budget.”
Regardless of which department pays the cost, payment comes from county funds. During the 2018-19 fiscal year, which runs July 1 to June 30, the county spent approximately $51,000 on autopsies.
With four months remaining in the 2019-20 fiscal year, the county has paid $41,000.
“As of today, not counting the one that we have right now, we are at $41,000,” said Denney. “Last year, we were at $51,000. The year before that, we were right at that. I think three years ago, we were at $61,000 or $62,000. We figure $55,000 should cover it.”
In most cases, a medical examiner or coroner can determine cause of death. An autopsy is requested to determine the cause, mode, and manner of death, when one is not clear.
The cost can vary, said Denney, depending on what the pathologist deems necessary to perform in order to determine the cause of death, but he sets the average cost at $1,600 per autopsy.
Moving that account will more than triple the morgue’s operating budget, from $23,700 in 2019-20 to $78,700 for 2020-21.
An explanation on the move and increase was provided to members of the Safety Committee when Denney presented the facility’s proposed budget for 2020-21 for members to review. Members offered no suggestions for change and unanimously accept it as presented.