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No replacement car for coroner's office, council says

It’s back to the drawing board for the county coroner’s office after Allen County Council members rejected the department’s request for a new car.

Five of the seven council members voted no to a request from Chief Investigator and Deputy Coroner Michael Burris for a new $23,134 vehicle to replace a 2001 Jeep Cherokee with 129,000 miles on the odometer.

Council members questioned Burris on the necessity of the department’s three take-home vehicles.

Burris said investigators use the vehicles on their way to and from the office, as well as during off-hours for work-related calls.

“There is one person on call every night from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. and all day Saturday and Sunday,” Burris said.

Council President Darren Vogt, R-3rd, suggested the employees drive to and from work in their own vehicles and the department earmark one vehicle for the person on call.

Vogt asked Burris to investigate the situation and “see if there’s a better way to do it” before resubmitting his request.

The mileage was not excessive, said Councilman Roy Buskirk, R-at large. The car that the coroner’s office wants to replace has logged about 7,000 miles a year since 2010, he said.

In other business, the highway department was granted a request for $1.8 million to help cover the additional costs of the particularly harsh and long winter weather.

The additional funds were needed to cover the costs of salt, fuel, new snowplows and increased employee overtime, highway department controller Kim Yagodinski said.

The funds will be taken from the department’s rollover funds – money left over from the previous year’s budget – and there will still be enough left to provide a cushion in case of a disaster or weather event, Yagodinski said.

For more on this story, see Friday’s print edition of The Journal Gazette or visit after 3 a.m. Friday.