City Council Looks Into Costs for Removing Dead Bodies

Ald. Ed Burke clashes with Ohio company on costs, vehicles used

By Nicola Orichuia
|  Saturday, Sep 26, 2009  |  Updated 4:08 PM CDT
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Body Removal Is Costing Chicago an Arm and a Leg

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Chicago pays more than any other city in the nation to take care of its dead.

That is the problem at the core of the heated argument that took place on Friday between Ald. Ed Burke (14th) and GSSP Enterprises Inc., the Ohio-based company contracted to remove dead bodies in Chicago.

Burke, acting as Finance Committee chairman, suggested to City Council on Friday that private ambulances should be used to transport the bodies to the morgue instead of the high priced company.

Chicago pays $690 per body, a figure that is down from $915 last year. For comparison's sake the Cook County Sheriff's Police pays $250-per-body and Dallas pays $94.

But GSSP counters that Burke is trying to defame them because they refuse to "pay to play."

“As this process continues in the next couple of weeks, you will find Chairman Burke’s motive and what is being done to us,” company CEO Brian Higgins told reporters after the session, according to the Sun-Times,

During the session, Burke also read a letter sent to him by Anthony Cicero, an attorney representing GSSP.

“Under the guise of looking to save the city a few bucks, you are defaming a company that refuses to ‘pay to play,” Burke read in front of City Council.

GSSP representatives would not further explain the allegation stated in the letter, the Sun-Times reported.

The city first gave the Ohio-based company a contract for $200-per-cadaver, but GSSP asked for higher rates after telling local officials the 7,000 removals-per-year in the contract were overestimated.

After raising the price to $915 for every dead body removed, the company agreed earlier this year to lower its price to $690.

Cook County Sheriff’s police pay $250-per cadaver, and some cities in the country such as Dallas pay rates as low as $96 for every dead body removed.

Burke called the dead-body controversy “the most disgraceful example of bureaucratic bungling, bureaucratic finger-pointing and bureaucratic ignorance,” he had ever witnessed.

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