County nixes forensic pathologist position, for now

(Lander, Wyo.) – Plans for the Fremont County Coroner’s Office to hire a forensic pathologist have died for now. At last night’s public budget hearing, Coroner Ed McAuslan informed the Fremont County Commission that the candidate who showed the most interest in the position declined to accept the offer, hoping for a boost in salary of $50,000.

McAuslan said its hard for the county to compete with forensic pathologist salaries in other parts of the country, where salaries can exceed more than $200,000 with more benefits than Fremont County can offer. His office was attempting to find a candidate to take the job for $100,000.

McAuslan suggested the county could either raise the amount that it’s offering for the position or abandon the project. Today, the commission opted not to raise the salary, but there was a consensus that perhaps more research and firmer revenue projections be made for continuing consideration.

The coroner’s budget was quickly restructured this morning before final approval. McAuslan, who was not present today, suggested on Monday evening that the salary funds be used to pay for travel and autopsy costs for the coming year.

5 Comments

  1. Kent Stockton

    This decision isn't very far-reaching — a forensic pathologist for our sector of Wyoming would not only improve the quality and convenience of forensic autopsies, but would be revenue-generating for our county. Sorry to hear our commissioners are so short-sighted. Kent Stockton M.D.

  2. John Brown

    Dr. Stockton,

    It could very well be the county doesn't actually have the extra $50,000 to add to the $100,000 salary the most interested prospect was offered.

    If the commissioners were smart, they'd save that $100,000 they were going to pay the patholigist position this year and add it to the position next year and spread it out over two or three years. That way they could offer a more competitive salary ($133,000 to $150,000) for two or three years. That would give them a pathologist and it would buy them two or three years to figure out how to pay the higher salary.

  3. Andy Jive

    John, the work the County would most likely get from areas around would easily cover that cost, according to the Coroner's last report.

    I would concur with Dr Stockton that the County needs to reassess their priorities as far tax revenues are utilized. Why not have use a forensic pathologist's expertise to actually cover the costs of autopsies in general?
    The Commission's short-sightedness costs the tax payers in autopsy fees, when in reality it could be somewhat averted. As fear of the unknown assists those decisions. :)

  4. John Brown

    If paying for a decent salary for a good pathologist is as easy as you're making it sound, the pathologist's office could be a profit center rather than a cost center. If all that is true and the County Commission can't see that, it sounds like some of them may need to be replaced.

  5. Erin Ivie

    How sad. Those deputies who drive the deceased to and from autopsy in Loveland, CO are not only taking days away from their families but risking their lives in the snowy winter conditions all because our commissioners are unwilling to see the benefit in having our own forensic pathologist. (I guarantee if the commissioners did the drive once in the winter they could find the additional funding). Additionally, when it comes to death investigations, our county is commonly viewed by surrounding counties as the gold standard, setting the bar for other counties. The addition of a forensic pathologist would not only aid in investigations, be cost effective (even profit generating), but keep us moving forward in the field of forensics and medicolegal investigations. It's unfortunate that the commission cannot see the benefit of such a position.

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