A surge in unattended deaths forced county supervisors to appropriate more money Friday for autopsies.
Supervisors moved $25,000 from its appropriated fund balance to cover the cost of autopsies.
As of last week, the county had paid for 46 autopsies. During that same period last year, the county had paid for 21 autopsies. The total number of autopsies in 2013 was 30.
Expecting similar numbers, supervisors only budgeted $58,000 for autopsies this year, but that fund had been depleted. The cost of an individual autopsy, including transportation, is $1,190.
The additional money should cover the cost of approximately 20 more autopsies.
Argyle Supervisor Bob Henke attributed the surge in autopsies to the county’s increasing heroin epidemic and said the increase could become the new norm.
“I think this is something we need to consider around budget time,” Henke said.
Other budget amendments
The board also amended its budget to cover the cost of community college chargebacks.
Officials authorized $75,000 be removed from the county’s contingency fund to cover the cost of chargebacks.
Counties are responsible for paying a share of the tuition for each resident who attend a New York State community college somewhere other than their home county. For instance, Washington County pays for local students who attend Hudson Valley Community College.
Several supervisors, however, expressed their belief that the chargebacks, at least this year, were not equitable. Supervisors approved increasing the appropriation for six different schools, but one of those schools, the Fashion Institute of Technology, was increased at a rate of $52,000 and while the next highest, HVCC and Schenectady Community College were increased $8,000.
Henke argued the agreement wasn’t necessarily fair to other counties and students because the Fashion Insititute was actually a four-year school.
“This is something the upstate counties should address,” Henke said.
Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff suggested the county draft a resolution and send it to other counties with community colleges.
“I don’t think its right,” Haff said.
The board approved the acceptance of a Underserved Victims of Crime Program grant.
The grant $324,895 grant will finance for three years a underserved victims of crime program.
Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan said there is no obligation to continue the program after the three years are up.
The board appointed Jordan and Kingsbury residents Zoey Muller and Colleen Wickes to the county’s Youth Advisory Board. The terms are good through Dec. 31, 2016.
The next full meeting of the Washington County Board of Supervisors will be held at 10 a.m. on Sept. 19.