The State Medical Examiner’s Office will not likely relocate to the campus of the University of Central Oklahoma if state legislators want to save taxpayers $17 million, state Sen. Clark Jolley said. An agreement has been made to relocate the office to the Oklahoma County Health Department in Oklahoma City.
“The price tag of the ME’s office at UCO is more that $40 million for their construction and their equipment and for the instructional space that UCO would require to finance it through the Master Lease Program,” Jolley said.
The price to construct the ME’s office at the Oklahoma County Health Department is $23 million. This price includes $3 million for the land, $10 million to renovate the building to be suitable for the ME’s use and another $10 million for the equipment, said Jolley, R-Edmond.
Jolley said he was grateful to the Commissioners of the Land Office (CLO) for being innovative in helping find a solution.
“This action today gives the state a very good option to move the state medical examiner’s office into a new facility and out of its old, cramped and dilapidated building,” said Gov. Mary Fallin, who serves as CLO chairman. “It lacks sufficient space for staff and agency operations, and it can’t be expanded. Today’s approval is a vital step in winning back accreditation for the medical examiner’s office, which conducts the important work of determining the cause of death for victims of violent or suspicious deaths.”
Current state law requires the ME’s office to be moved to the UCO campus. Jolley said a new state law will have to be passed next legislative session for the location to be somewhere other than UCO. He has introduced Senate Bill 866 to eliminate this requirement.
“I would hope they would be able to start construction; start renovations of it in the early spring,” Jolley said.
He said that UCO has been great to work with in their effort to provide a modern space on campus.
“They have gone above board in trying to make this happen,” Jolley said. “It was just a very tough thing to get done. In the fiscal situation we’re in, we have to do what is fiscally conservative. We’ll get the accreditation back as soon as possible and that’s a change of plan.”