McCracken County Fiscal Court discusses coroner budget cuts

Cuts to the coroner’s budget: That’s what McCracken County Judge Executive Bob Leeper proposed to the fiscal court for the 2016-2017 budget Wednesday during a workshop. This comes after several budget presentations by department heads.

We don’t know exactly how much money will be cut, but Leeper did say he wants to reduce the coroner’s budget by one full-time deputy, funding, and new equipment.  The coroner’s budget last year was $199,611.

This is what treasurers from counties with similar population’s say how much they budget for their coroner’s office:

  • Pulaski county has the next highest coroner’s budget at 127 thousand dollars.
  • Laurel county’s budget is around 46 thousand. 
  • Those in support of McCracken county’s coroner budget say all this money essential.

The coroner’s budget was not the only line item discussed in the workshop, but it was discussed with the most emotion. A deputy coroner attended the meeting to testify: “Y’all can sit here and talk about it because you do not do it. It’s easy to look at a paper when you do not do it. I do it.”

Several people echoed the deputy coroner,  voicing to the court that they believe coroner’s cuts are too much at one time.

“By having this full-time deputy, we have a better staff and our citizens are served better," Commissioner Jerry Beyer said.

Coroner Dan Sims said keeping the coroner’s office funded keeps bodies from piling up. “It’s not about numbers sir it’s about serving the people of McCracken County on the worst day of their lives and the call volume we have," he said.

Even pauper burials, which are not part of the coroner’s budget but are included in Sims’ work. They’re proposed cuts from $60,000 to $15,000 a year.

Leeper said any budget cuts are difficult. He says he believes this will take the county and its taxpayers in the right direction. "It’s not a reflection on the coroner or staff," he said. "They’re all professionals. Its not something I take lightly.”

That full-time coroner’s deputy is paid roughly $42,000 a year in salary plus benefits. Local 6 did try and get in touch with Sims after the meeting, but we haven’t heard back. The fiscal court still has to vote on the budget. 

While the coroner’s budget may be cut, other departments may reap the benefits. Leeper proposed increases to the jail and the sheriff’s department.

If passed,  the sheriff could have the money to hire four new road deputies, raise starting pay for those deputies by $200, and use incentive pay to hire, train, and retain those deputies.

The jail could also raise the minimum rate for deputy jailers and see that incentive pay as well.

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