Coroner requests additional funds to bury the poor

A rise in indigent burials over the past few years prompted the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office to request more money from the board of supervisors Tuesday.

Originally, $55,000 had been budgeted to the office to conduct mass burials for those whose families or loved ones can’t afford it. With roughly 200 indigent cases anticipated this fiscal year, which ends June 30, supervisors were expected to OK an additional $7,000 to that fund during a procedural vote at their June 3 meeting.

According to data provided by interim Coroner Kimberly Gin, her office handled 235 indigent cases during the 2012-13 fiscal year, up 32 percent from the previous fiscal year, when 160 indigent parties were interred in mass graves.

“I don’t think we’ll get up to 235 next fiscal year,” Gin said, “but we could very easily and we are guessing at this point.” She called the 235 figure from last year “a bit of a shock” and suggested the recent recession played a role.

To qualify for an indigent burial, both the decedent and the person legally responsible for handling the remains must be indigent, the coroner’s office says on its website.

Each indigent burial comes out to about $310, entailing permits, cremation, interment in a mass grave at a contracted cemetery, and a grave marker for visitors.

“Mostly, these are families that can’t take care of their loved one because they themselves don’t have a job or they have a job but they are supporting multiple other people on a low paying job,” Gin said.

Indigent burials include some homeless people as well, she added. Gin noted that the costs of these services have increased since 2011.

People can call the office at (916) 874-9320 to apply for the service.

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