Tax Dollars Pay for Unclaimed Body Burials

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – It is common for the Fayette County Coroner to ask for the public’s help in finding family members of people who have died but what happens when the family can’t be found?

Those people still deserve a proper, dignified burial and they get it thanks to tax dollars.

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The coroner says so far in this budget year there have been six unclaimed bodies in the county.  Those end up at Evergreen Memory Gardens.

The cemetery in nearby Paris says even people without families deserve to be remembered.  The county gets the casket, land and a market all at a steep discount but it still costs $1,947 per person.

During the last county budget the coroner says nearly $50,000 went to burying 24 unclaimed people and he expects that number to go up.

Budget Year 2013/2014 – 17 unclaimed bodies

Budget Year 2014/2015 – 11 unclaimed bodies

Budget Year 2015/2016 – 24 unclaimed bodies

“So, I try to be as frugal as I possibly can because we have a line item in our budget and that’s how much money the Urban County gives us and when we run out, we run out,” said Gary Ginn, Fayette County Coroner.  “So we have to look at other things in our budget to try and shift money in order to make up the difference when that happens.”

Ginn says occasionally people have property or money in the bank that can be used to reimburse the county but he says that usually is a very small amount.

Right now the coroner is looking for the family of Tina Marie Summits Odom, 47.  He says she died January 13th at UK Hospital from cardiac arrest.  Her last known address was on Eddie Street in Lexington but that home is now unoccupied and neighbors didn’t know her.  Ginn says he has been able to track down a birth certificate so he shows he was born in Florida.