Sending My Deepest Sympathies [PHIL-OSOPHY]
There are no words to express my sorrow, regret and shock for a big increase the state's Chief Medical Examiner's office plans to charge next of kin just to examine a body before it is cremated.
This money grab, expected to be implemented by this August, will up the present $100 charge to $200 simply to look at the body set to be cremated. This is nothing less than a shameful "viewing tax."
Ben, you were spot on to say nothing can be certain except death and taxes, and unfortunately, it doesn't require a change in law to go in effect. The Medical Examiner's Office plans a feedback session on July 19 at One Ashburton Place, but don't get your hopes up. The bureaucrats will say they need the money because there are more cremations than ever before and the state has new facilities opening up, costing taxpayers more money.
What they'll conveniently forget to mention is that our state's budget surplus revenues were over $950 million, above projections at the end of May, so if they wanted to, they could use that money–but they won't. Instead, the grieving taxpayers will be forced to cough up a 100 percent increase.
With an estimated 30,000 views per year, the Medical Examiner's Office stands to collect $6 million annually–or twice the current $3 million. I think Peter Stefan, funeral director and owner of Graham, Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Parlors in Worcester, put it best with his Boston Globe quote, "Why do they need any money for a viewing when it's already been viewed in the original investigation? And now you want to raise it to $200? They can go to hell."
In relation to this story, that statement represents rhetorical genius.
Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.