LOCKPORT - The Niagara County Legislature will vote Tuesday to appropriate $100,000 to pay for autopsies on county citizens for the rest of the year.
All of the county's autopsies are performed at Erie County Medical Center by Erie County staff, and the base price for an autopsy was raised this year from $850 to $1,650, according to Roxanne M. Morgan, deputy County Legislature clerk, who presented the figures at a committee meeting last week.
This year's county budget included $145,000 for autopsies, which was the same figure as in 2011. Because of the ECMC price hike, the 2012 budget was wiped out in eight months, Morgan said.
The price increase, sought by Erie County because of its own budget woes, was included in a three-year autopsy contract the County Legislature approved on the same night it passed the 2012 budget. Increases also were imposed in contracts with Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties.
Price hikes were included in the contract for 2013 and 2014, when the tab for an autopsy will rise to $1,751.
Legislator Paul B. Wojtaszek, R-North Tonawanda, again suggested the county take a look at hiring its own medical examiner to perform autopsies within the county.
County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz said that "would be very expensive, a couple hundred thousand."
Legislator Peter E. Smolinski, R-North Tonawanda, said it's unlikely that any of the county's hospitals would agree to host autopsies.
"I don't think DeGraff or any of the other hospitals want to be bothered with them anymore," Smolinski said.
The transportation services that haul bodies to Buffalo also are asking for price increases, Morgan added. The budget contains $25,000 for body transportation.
The county pays $125 for the transportation of a corpse. Prices around the state range from $60 to $600, Morgan said. "I don't think we're out of line," she said.