Money from next year’s budget to be spent at the Beaufort County coroner’s office

Published: May. 26, 2022 at 3:37 PM EDT
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BEAUFORT COUNTY, Sc. (WTOC) - Beaufort County council held the first reading for next year’s budget this week.

Chris Ophardt, the public information officer for Beaufort County, said, “we have a $142 million budget which is about a $6 million increase over last year.”

The county says they’re looking to invest that money more in infrastructure and less in operations. That means a complete overhaul of the public works building.

“This shop was built in the 70′s and needs huge upgrades to it. Also, our EMS headquarters is old, built in the 70s...80s and that needs to be completely redone as well.”

Of this $142 million, half a million will be spent at the coroner’s office where they’ll soon be able to do autopsies thanks to a new forensic pathology suite.

Beaufort County Coroner David Ott said, “it’s going to be a very valuable asset to the citizens of Beaufort County.”

Charleston currently handles Lowcountry autopsies, but this will allow them to take place right here in Beaufort County shortening the wait for families going through tragedy.

“The final results can take anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks to get those back. Hopefully by having the service here in Beaufort County, we’ll have them back in days versus weeks.”

With the current system, Ott said it can take days to even get the autopsy done but that’ll soon change.

“It’s terrible when you have a death and we tell a family that the autopsy is scheduled four days out.”

It’s not too far away from reality either…

“We hope to have this up and running at the end of July, first of August.”

Law enforcement will also benefit from this, getting autopsy results quicker and more conveniently.

The county coroner said they’ve also offered this soon to be service to Jasper and Hampton counties, so the entire Lowcountry benefits from a more convenient process. All of this of course still needs to be approved by county council, which would happen June 27.

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