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Coroner responds to idea for equipment safeguards

GENEVA – Kane County Coroner Rob Russell said he would welcome safeguards that would alert him and his staff to failing equipment.

But, he said, “I need money to do that.”

Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen encouraged the use of such safeguards and preventative measures when the Finance/Budget Committee this week reviewed the $3,497 morgue freezer repair cost.

The freezer had a refrigerant leak and needed a new compressor in late November.

The County Board is expected to act on the budget adjustment request Feb. 11.

Russell said he is trying to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars, but he also is dealing with outdated and inadequate facilities.

“How much money do we want to pour into this broken building?” he said.

His first year as coroner ended with an overage of about $19,600 – an amount Lauzen singled out during the finance meeting.

In a fiscal year that also ended with about $6.7 million more in revenue than budgeted, Russell said he doesn’t understand the fuss about his overage, which he feels was justified.

“Considering the mess that was left for me to clean up, I think we did a good job,” Russell said. “The alternatives could have cost the county a lot more than that had we not corrected the overtime and autopsy issues.”

The coroner’s office was last helmed by Chuck West. West had been charged with official misconduct and died before his case went to trial.

Russell said he hopes the county board will help his office by beginning the process of appropriating capital for improvements.

“I welcome the chairman’s support for new technology that would increase the safety and security of this office and will move forward with him to rectify this problem,” Russell said.

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