More Mohave morgue options materialize

County Supervisor Buster Johnson

County Supervisor Buster Johnson

KINGMAN - The Mohave County Board of Supervisors voted Monday to delay action for 90 days on determining where to house the county's medical examiner operation and whether to bring it in house in 2015.

But the Board agreed to take proposals from the public for land and buildings after receiving information from several property owners who are interested in either selling or giving space to the Board for a morgue and office.

The Board must make a decision soon about whether to continue to contract these services or bring them in house.

The current contract with Dr. Rexenne Worrell expires in 2015. She runs her medical examiner business out of an office in the 1100 block of Aviation Drive in Lake Havasu City.

"As a property owner, I would be willing to construct a building to accommodate and fulfill your needs," said Michael Seitz, a real estate agent and owner of the former Market Basket meat market at 2851 Airway.

Seitz said the property has approval for a crematorium under Kingman's zoning code and a 35-foot refrigerator and cooler for storing bodies.

Board members decided they need more information about possible locations, although Supervisor Steve Moss, District 5, balked at the amount of money needed for the morgue and offices for an in-house staff.

Currently, the county pays about $525,000 annually for Worrell's services.

"We're talking about renting or building or remodeling a building from $1 million to $1.7 million dollars for the initial outlay, then we're going to bring the medical examiners services in-house for a little over $800,000 a year," said Moss.

"We would be spending about $300,000 more for what we're currently receiving. That's a lot more than we're currently spending and I would do everything possible to avoid bringing this in house because of the millions that we'd be spending over 10 years."

Supervisor Buster Johnson, District 3, said he understands the concerns voiced by Moss but has heard from many people that the county's numbers are high.

Some of the costs can be offset by contracting with neighboring counties to handle their services, he said.

"This gentleman has come forward with an offer and there's also a gentleman who has contacted the Board and wants to give us land free of charge in the Mohave Valley area if we want it," said Johnson. "I think we have to go ahead and get a site and construct a building.

"I think we can control costs and quality better if we have the office in house rather than we can by going out."

In other business, the Board agreed to continue its decision for 30 days on the fate of Arnold Plaza, a county-owned building at 301 and 303 Oak Street, to allow Supervisor Joy Brotherton, District 4, more time to talk to a resident who called her last week to express interest in it.

She said the man, who was on his way to Phoenix and returns to Kingman this week, would like to talk to the Board about his idea for the facility.

"I'm not for spending one penny on this property," said Brotherton. "And the figures are pretty high on doing anything with it. Now, if this man has an idea and wants to clean it up, that's fine.

"I'll make contact with him and see when he's going to be here, and we'll go from there."

Arnold Plaza was offered at public auction Oct. 21 but no bids were received.

According to staff reports, remodeling the Arnold Plaza for general office use would cost the county almost $2 million. It would cost about $600,000 to demolish it.

A "do nothing" approach of holding onto the building until conditions are more favorable for selling it would cost about $200,000 for a roof replacement and painting the outside to keep water from coming in.

Also, the Board elected new officers to take over the reins in January. Angius was voted chairman, replacing Chairman Gary Watson, District 1, and Brotherton was chosen as vice chairman, taking the place of Angius.