By Josh Mitchell

Missourian Staff Writer

The cost for medical examiner services in Franklin County has gone up again.

County commissioners Tuesday approved the contract for 2014 at a cost not to exceed $256,080.

That is up from the $246,231 amount of this year’s contract, which is $18,577 more than the contract the year prior.

The county contracts with St. Louis University and Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Mary Case for the services, which include autopsies and forensic toxicology.

Sgt. Mike Copeland with the sheriff’s office noted that the contract covers the salaries of investigators as well as morgue expenses. Copeland is one of the part-time death investigators.

The contract covers 600 to 900 deaths a year, and will run from Jan. 1, 2014 to Dec. 31.

The county started using a medical examiner in 1993 as opposed to a coroner when it changed to a first-class county, Copeland said.

There was a feasibility study done in 1993 to determine whether it was more feasible for the county to contract for the services or hire its own examiner, Copeland said.

At the time the study was done, it was determined that it was “far more reasonable” to contract with Dr. Case and use the St. Louis County facilities, Copeland said.

He noted that Case works with several board-certified pathologists who can provide credible testimony in court cases.

“It’s my opinion that the system works extremely well,” said Copeland.

Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer said, “The services aren’t cheap.” But he does not think the county could provide the services in-house for less.