Hearing slated on coroner proposal

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County supervisors Tuesday set a public hearing for May 12 regarding a proposed local law reducing the number of elected county coroner positions from two to one.

The Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee took action on the hearing, subject to board approval April 14.

“This would set the stage for a two-month process,” said county Administrative Officer Jon Stead.

He said following the hearing, the board may formally reduce the number of coroners at the same May 12 session and create one deputy position, who would answer to the sole coroner.

The county has been operating with elected coroners Margaret Luck and Art Simmons, who resigned Dec. 31. Coroners serve four-year terms.

Stead noted that in previous discussions, the Public Safety Committee endorsed reducing the number of coroners in Fulton County from two to one.

Stead said he and Luck are preparing a job-duties statement for a new position of deputy coroner, which would be an appointed employee. He said the county Planning Department will review the statement.

Stead said these steps will provide for an administrative structure for the “coroner’s bureau” and for multiple positions to ensure adequate coverage for emergency responses for death investigations.

He said the county might also create a second deputy coroner, since work is parceled out on a “per call basis” anyway, and all coroners are paid a set fee. Stead said there may be some training costs associated with the deputy positions.

Stead said he talked to the Saratoga County personnel director, who indicated that county did something similar, creating a deputy.

Luck told supervisors in February that in the past, when both coroners were on an equal footing, it could cause a “difficult relationship.” She said there was no oversight and no checks and balances, suggesting the deputy coroner position be overseen by the sole coroner.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.