Medical Examiner's Office, big part of county budget - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/16/09

Medical Examiner's Office, big part of county budget

By Katie Bauer  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Lubbock County officials say a new jail and new Medical Examiner's office are the reasons for a tight budget and a slight increase in the tax rate.

But Commissioners' plan for recouping some of the money in the M.E.'s office could be questionable. Lubbock County Commissioners say two million dollars of the county's budget is devoted to getting the medical examiner's office up and running.

Just over a year ago Texas Tech Health Sciences center announced they will not oversee the medical examiner's office anymore, so Lubbock County has taken on the responsibility.

But of that $2 million dollar budget, Dr. Sridhar Natarajan is paid $450,000 and in terms of base salary, he's one of the highest paid medical examiners in the nation.

Commissioners say they are in the process of hiring another doctor to perform autopsies for other South Plains counties, hoping this would bring in additional funds. "Then we will feel less pressure on the budget, but right now we have got to spend the money to get that program up and going and then later on we will get the revenue," said Commissioner Bill McCay.

But Lubbock County may run into some problems depending on other surrounding county's business.

We called more than 10 counties in West Texas who have already signed contracts with South Plains Forensics, a private company.

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