Using DuPage facility helps put Kane coroner at 16% over budget

 
 
Updated 10/11/2014 7:36 AM

The Kane County coroner's office expects to spend $140,368, or 16.6 percent, more than budgeted this year, including $43,000 to DuPage County for conducting autopsies and storing bodies in its morgue.

"The increases are not things such as conferences or anything like that. These basically are (expenses) that we are going to have to pay such as autopsies, the rentals to DuPage," Coroner Rob Russell told the county board's judicial and public safety committee Friday.

 

The committee approved by a 6-1 vote a budget amendment Friday, and it now goes to the finance committee.

Kane County Board member Theresa Barreiro was the "no" vote. She said after the meeting she did so to be consistent with other votes she has made regarding the coroner's spending.

Barreiro said doing the autopsies in DuPage was unnecessary and said of the current "gutting" of the coroner's facility, "It's ridiculous."

The coroner moved autopsies to DuPage County in June after mold was discovered while moving a broken freezer that had leaked. It turned out not to be toxic black mold.

The morgue area is getting a new climate and ventilation system, which was not budgeted, and a new combination cooler-freezer, which was. The county board hasn't seen contracts for the work yet. The office is also getting a swipe-card security system.

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The work is intended to extend the life of the coroner's facility at least another five years. Russell has asked for a larger, improved facility, either new or remodeled.

Russell said he expects to be back in the morgue by the end of the year.

When board members Douglas Scheflow and Brian Pollock asked why an increase in spending for conferences was in the resolution, Russell said he didn't intend to spend any more this year on items such as uniforms and conferences.

The resolution states extra fuel ($7,931 worth) and personnel costs ($34,133) are also related to using the DuPage facility. But there are overages in other accounts, and the resolution didn't spell out how much, if any, was related to using DuPage's facilities.

The amendment indicates the coroner spent or projects spending an additional $64,785 on autopsies, $1,190 more on toxicology tests, $2,362 more on conferences and meetings, $590 more on mileage, and $443 more on dues. The budget called for spending only $800 on meetings and conferences, and in September board Chairman Chris Lauzen criticized Russell for planning to attend a $1,500 conference in Las Vegas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Russell projects spending less on X-rays, vehicle maintenance and repairs, training, and health and dental insurance.

Barreiro said she intends to ask more questions about the conference spending, as well as the increases in some supplies, at the next finance committee meeting.

Last year, the board approved an $87,000 budget overrun. That was after Lauzen delayed action on the budget amendment, saying it was so large county Auditor Terry Hunt and finance director Joe Onzick should review it. Eventually, county Clerk Jack Cunningham brokered a deal where the budget amendment went through and Russell agreed to keep his budget flat for three years.

Russell said he worked with Hunt to calculate how much money would be needed to get through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Nov. 30.

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