Yorkers might soon have to pay an extra fee if they want to cremate a deceased loved one.
York County Coroner Pam Gay at Wednesday's county commissioners meeting proposed a $50 fee for authorization of cremation services.
Under the proposal, the fee would be across-the-board, and anyone who requests a cremation would be required to pay it, Gay said. The fee would go into effect on July 1.
Commissioners are tabling the idea for now and said they will bring it up again in a week or two.
Reason: Coroner's office employees don't only deal with car crash fatalities and drug overdoses — the bulk of their time is spent with natural deaths, Gay said.
When doctors can't sign a death certificate, it's up to the coroner to go to the scene, conduct an investigation and authorize a cremation, she said.
Last year, the office had 1,601 cremation releases, Gay said. From January through April this year, it's had 652 — a 22 percent increase, she said. The population is aging and growing, leading to more demand for cremations, she said.
"We're doing everything with the same number of staff, and we're busier and busier," she said.
Exceptions: York County doesn't have a fee of this kind, but other counties already have them in place: Lancaster County uses a $50 fee.
If Gay's proposal is granted, the fee would be itemized in the funeral expense invoice, and the funeral home would collect the checks and send them to the office bi-monthly, she said.
And if the office continues to distribute cremation releases at a rate of about 2,000 a year, a $50 fee would generate $100,000 for the coroner's office, helping cover the cost of providing the service without burdening taxpayers, Gay said.
There are a few circumstances where families would be exempt from paying the fee, she said.
There will be no fee for authorization of cremation services for children under 18 years old, veterans and those with proof of financial hardship.
Vets would be the bulk of the exempt, Gay said.
— Reach Mollie Durkin at firstname.lastname@example.org.