CARLISLE - Cumberland County commissioners called the coroner's request for an additional $174,000 in funding before the end of the year "extraordinary."
Coroner Charles Hall presented the request Thursday, citing a 20 percent spike in cases this year as compared to the first seven months of 2012. Hall said without the increase, he will run out of funds by the end of the year.
“That’s a little tough for me to swallow,” Commissioner Jim Hertzler said. “That’s a big increase in expenditures and essentially blows the budget in terms of what was allocated.”
Hertzler reminded Hall of the county’s ongoing mission review process, which encourages departments to scale back spending in an effort to prevent a budget deficit and another double digit property tax increase in 2014.
Hall said fuel costs, overtime and a string of unusual cases has also hampered the department’s $675,000 budget, which was set before Hall was appointed to the office by Gov. Tom Corbett in October 2012.
“It’s important for all departments and elected officials to understand that budget problem is everybody’s problem — not just a commissioner problem,” Commissioner Gary Eichelberger said.
Commissioner Chairwoman Barb Cross reminded Hall that proper management of personnel and vehicles would cut down on the costs associated with overtime and gas.
Hall said the size of the county and unpredictable nature of calls leaves him with few options.
“One day, we had five calls at the same time,” he said. “We run from one end of the county to the other.”
The news is the just the latest of funding-related proposals to come from the coroner’s office. Hall attended finance meetings throughout the summer to discuss funding for a new ambulance that would transport multiple bodies to Allentown for autopsies.
Hall said Thursday that he instead wants to buy another vehicle that would only fit one body at a time, leaving the department’s Ford van to replace the ambulance.
“You’re aware we’ve been trying to close a budget gap,” Hertzler said. “This doesn’t help us.”
Hertzler said the coroner’s office spent $394,594 through the first seven months of this year — a $133,000 increase over the same time frame in 2012.
The commissioners will vote on the funding request at a later meeting.