Johnson County has no facilities for the coroner.
Currently, Johnson County coroner duties are performed in Wyandotte County in space rented from a private party, and the annual county corner’s budget is about $600,000.
The new coroner facility has a price tag of $19 million and would be funded with a proposed 10 year, quarter cent sales tax that would also build a new county courthouse.
The county currently does about 305 autopsies annually, said Sharon Watson, Johnson County director of public affairs. “The national average is 445 for a community of our size and complexity. We would anticipate the number of autopsies conducted being higher to uphold our law enforcement and public health responsibilities.”
Currently, Johnson County does not have a backlog of autopsies, although timing is allocated to fit the schedule of the commercial autopsy facility.
If the proposed sales tax passes, the county would be able to conduct their own toxicology studies.
Watson said toxicology studies are included in the coroner’s overall budget, and the county pays approximately $200 for each toxicology case.
“So a minimum of $60,000. Approximately,$40,000 is spent on specialized studies needed for individual cases,” Watson said. All cases investigated by the coroner have toxicology studies.
The county says the proposed quarter cent sales tax will fund both a new courthouse and coroner’s facility before it expires in ten years.
Previously, Ed Eilert, commission chair, has said the quarter cent would raise about $30 million a year. State statute requires the revenue be shared with cities, so about $10 million of that per year would be distributed to the cities on a formula basis.
If the tax passes, Gardner would receive about $4.8 million, Spring Hill $982,000 and Edgerton $713,000, according to the county website. There is no statutory requirement on how the cities allocate the additional revenue.
If the sales tax is approved, Johnson County might see a revenue stream by contracting with other cities and counties in the metro area to perform autopsies.
“That would be worked out in the future as we discuss possible contracts with counties in Kansas near the metro (similar to how Jackson County does on the Missouri side),” Watson said. The amount of the potential revenue stream would be determined if contracts with other counties/cities were negotiated.