Facing a potential emergency, Erie County Council has approved a salary increase for the next deputy coroner.

The decision comes at the request of Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook, who is currently running the coroner's office alone.

After Deputy Coroner Dennis Suscheck retired and Deputy Coroner Korac Timon resigned, Cook has been handling the office's death investigations by himself.

After pleading his case before Erie County Council on Thursday, council members approved an ordinance that will allow Cook to hire a new deputy coroner at $48,770 a year.

"A lot of people think they can do it,” said Cook.  “But they can't, so I have a very specific set of requirements and from there, that's who we draw from."

The original starting salary for the deputy position was $23,400 a year.  A wage Cook said was way too low.

"The field itself is becoming more and more technical, more and more demanding, and there are just so few people who have the qualifications to do it." said Cook.

County council members agreed.

"For the coroner's office, he's currently running the office on his own,” said Erie County Councilman Jay Breneman.  “We needed to address the salary in order to get somebody else who can fill that position."

Back in May, Erie County Council put a freeze on all pay hike requests for county employees.  According to Breneman, in this case they had to make an exception.

“We have a salary that's a relic from decades ago, and we need to get this position filled.  We took the special occasion, to address the matter now."

Cook hopes to find a replacement within the next three weeks.