Hennepin County will provide medical examiner services to Dakota and Scott counties starting Jan. 1, under a merger that commissioners likely will finalize this week and which the other counties have approved.
According to the terms, Hennepin will receive nearly $1.5 million next year to serve Dakota and Scott at its downtown Minneapolis morgue, which will be remodeled to handle the expanded staff and caseload. Dr. Andrew Baker, Hennepin County's chief medical examiner, will assume the same position with Dakota and Scott counties.
Payments to Hennepin County will slightly increase each year through 2016.
The merger was prompted by Dakota County's decision to leave its cramped facility in Hastings. Besides Scott, at least one of the other seven counties served at Hastings also may move to the Minneapolis morgue.
"This is a vision of bringing two nationally accredited medical examiner's offices together under one roof," Baker told commissioners.