INDIANAPOLIS — The Marion County coroner’s office exhausted its entire budget for 2021 by November.
It needed an extra infusion of cash from city-county councilors in order to get to the end of the year to cover costs. Deputy coroner Alfie McGinty tells WISH-Tv the reason their original budget wasn’t enough was twofold: the surge in COVID cases and the increase in crime.
The shortage of forensic pathologists also played a role, especially since the market for forensic pathologists is so competitive right now that salaries to pay staffers is way up.
“When you talk about hiring a forensic pathologist you’re talking about a salary of anywhere from $180,000, upwards now, it’s so competitive, to $290,000, McGinty said.
The increase in violent crime in Indy has certainly had the most direct impact on the coroner’s office, says McGinty. This year Indianapolis set another record for homicides in a calendar year with 269.
On top of taking in all those cases, she says the Marion County coroner’s office also takes in some cases from outside the county. She says any homicide victims from outside Marion County that die in Indianapolis hospitals come to their office.
“According to state law, those counties should reimburse our office,” McGinty said. “However, there are not teeth in that law that says those counties must pay.”
That means Marion County is sometimes left on the hook to pay for autopsies and processing of other counties’ homicide victims, which comes out of the coroner’s office budget.
McGinty is not optimistic that things will get any better in 2022, with the city showing no signs of getting any better when it comes to crime, not to mention the uncertainty the COVID pandemic adds.