Alachua County Budget Scrutiny
The bad economy is even reaching out past the grave. While examining every detail of the Alachua County budget, Commissioners learned that one department doubled its budget in burying unclaimed bodies.
With less revenue coming in...even paying for these last rites is under the microscope.
It seems this year that every aspect of the county budget is being scrutinized even more than usual.
Tuesday a presentation from the Community Support Services Department, on everything from choices healthcare to poverty reduction, turned to a detailed discussion of how the county deals with the mandatory disposal of human remains.
Social services has spent $70 thousand this year burying and cremating the bodies of people who can't afford the cost. Which is twice the budgeted amount.
Social Services Director Candie Nixon said, "Many of those persons are people who have family members, but for whatever reason the family has decided not to pick up that expense."
The county is mandated to dispose of human remains that aren't claimed. But the Department of Social Services has been going above and beyond...taking care of bodies whose families can't afford to claim them.
Commissioners have asked for more information on this, to see how future cases should be handled.
Alachua County is looking to cut 5% across the board from county departments. So the word from the Board of County Commissioners is that no department is immune. Alachua County Manager Randall Reid said, "They may not all experience that level...some may be more, some may be less. But I anticipate, this is another downturn year and so with our revenues the way they are, there will be reductions including public safety."
Tough cuts are looming on both sides of the budget. Constitutional officers are being asked to prepare their budgets based on last year's pared down allocations.
Indeed the body disposal budget issue is small in comparison to the other multi-million dollar expenses also being weighed out. But with less money, this seems to be the norm.
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