The cost of the heroin epidemic reaches taxpayers as Ohio coroners' offices are overwhelmed

Posted at 4:16 PM, May 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-05 10:36:39-04

They're the bleak barometer for the heroin epidemic here in Ohio: Overwhelmed and over budget, local coroners and medical examiners are doing their best to keep up.

"The drug problem has gotten so big and so bad everybody's budget has just gone haywire," said Stark County Investigator Rick Walters.

Twenty of percent of the cases in the Stark County coroner's office are now related to the heroin epidemic. The job is becoming more expensive and more time consuming.

"Toxicologies are getting more expensive. And the hours we are putting in! The hours the crime lab is putting in," Walters said.

RELATED: Stark County Coroner's Office uses temporary mobile morgue to store overflow of bodies

Costs related to drugs have raised the budget in Stark County by more than 30 percent. A levy passed Tuesday in Stark County will help some.

Tax hikes

The levy is a continuance. For others the heroin epidemic has caused a tax hike.

  • Cuyahoga County added $142,000 dollars to the budget in 2016 just to transport the bodies.
  • Overdoses doubled in Lorain County, where the coroner's office has already added $70,000 dollars to the budget this year.

In Summit County the coroner says the issue is simple math: more cases, same personnel.

"I hope there's something we can do to stop the drug problem! I hope there's something we can do. By the time it gets here, it's too late," Walters said.