The Steuben County Legislature approved the establishment of a coroners’ physician position Monday.
For more than 10 years, Steuben County has contracted with the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office in Rochester to perform autopsies for county coroners.
Recently, due to cuts in state funding, Monroe County opted to charge Steuben County on a case-by-case basis, rather than a flat rate for the entire year with a maximum amount of cases.
“They’re basically raising their rates by doubling or tripling them,” said Steuben County Manager Mark Alger.
That would likely mean an extra $200,000 to $300,000 annually for Steuben, which sends about 80 cases a year to Rochester.
The coroners’ physician will be able to make a determination in routine cases with clear causes of death, so fewer cases will be sent to Monroe County.
“What we’re trying to do is reduce the number of cases we’re sending to Monroe County unnecessarily by using a local doctor to do that,” Alger said. “In a normal situation where it’s a fairly straightforward case, the coroner and the coroners’ physician can then sign off on the death certificate and it will be finished, rather than sending it to Monroe County for a medical examiner to do that.”
Any case involving a suspicious or unknown cause of death will still go to Rochester.
Dr. Robert Cole, one of Steuben County’s four coroners, has agreed to take on the responsibility of a coroners’ physician on top of his current duties. Cole’s compensation as the acting coroners’ physician will be $100 per case, plus necessary expenses.
Also Monday:
• The legislature set a date for the county’s annual property tax auction.
The auction of foreclosed properties will be held at 10 a.m. July 11 at the Campbell-Savona Junior/Senior High School.
As of Nov. 1, 469 properties in Steuben County were filed as having a delinquent tax status - about 100 fewer properties than last year. The final redemption date, or the date by which the delinquent taxes must be paid to withdraw the property from the upcoming auction, is March 7.
Patrick Donnelly, Steuben County’s commissioner of finance, expects 80-120 properties up for sale at July’s auction.
The available properties will be posted in late May at