County budget hearings begin; Coroner having trouble finding forensic pathologist candidates at current salary rate

(Lander, Wyo.) – Budget hearings for Fremont County’s numerous departments and offices began on Tuesday afternoon, starting with the Fremont County Coroner’s Office.

Coroner Ed McAuslan’s proposed budget for 2014-15 is approximately $488,000, an increase over last year’s $395,000. Some of this increase is coming with associated costs of bringing a forensic pathologist on board as well as bringing one of the deputies to full time.

If the coroner’s office successfully finds a candidate to fulfill the forensic pathologist role, it would be the only such position in the state. Based on commitments from neighboring counties to use Fremont County’s pathologist rather than outsourcing autopsies out of state, McAuslan estimates annual revenue around $100,000. This would cover much of the proposed pathologist’s salary. More revenue could come in should other counties decide utilize the in-state service.

However, McAuslan told the commission that two of four candidates have withdrawn their applications because they thought the salary was too low. McAuslan said if he could increase the salary by $50,000 he would likely get more candidates. He left that budget adjustment to the commission.

Commission Chairman Doug Thompson said the commission would take that recommendation under advisement, but he noted that the new salary figure was “quite a jump” from what had been discussed in prior months.