|Lake cemetery budget shrinking|
|Written by DEBBIE ROGERS Sentinel Staff Writer|
|Monday, 21 May 2012 08:58|
MILLBURY - It's becoming a familiar struggle for cemeteries all over the country.
The size of the property remains the same, but budgets are shrinking. The cemeteries, which are a final resting place for hundreds of people and need constant attention, can't be neglected.
Lake Township Cemetery is no exception.
"It is not our intention to let it (the cemetery) go, but if there's no money, there's no money," said Chairwoman Melanie Bowen at Tuesday's trustees' meeting. "It's unfortunate."
Fiscal Officer Vicki Schwamberger said four years ago the annual cemetery budget was approximately $200,000; now it is $160,000.
To close the gap, the trustees have not hired any seasonal help this year.
Cemetery Sexton Gary Schulte said he used to operate with two full-time employees and five seasonal workers. The full-time staff is still in place, but the seasonal mowers were cut to one the last two years and none this year.
They've tried to adjust by using road and park workers a few days a week at the cemetery.
"It's all we can do some weeks to keep up with the burials and keep the place mowed," Schulte said.
The reasons for the decrease in cemetery budgets, he believes, are the economic downturn and cremations.
With the economy, Schulte said, more people hold off on buying a burial plot - if they purchase one at all - until someone dies. And with cremations, one plot can hold the remains of two people.
Fifteen to 20 years ago, there were three to four pre-need sales a week, Schulte said. Now the average is one per week.
He said some township or municipal-operated cemeteries have a levy to operate.
Schwamberger said the cost of the seasonal employees was about $35,000 annually, so the cemetery, which must have a balanced budget, is flush this year.
In April, there were seven burials at Lake Township Cemetery.
According to the township's Web site, the 40-acre cemetery was formally established in 1876 with some burials as early as 1871. Many members of the pioneer families of Lake Township are interred here.
Grave prices for residents of the township are $300 per grave, and for non-residents the price is $700 per grave.
Also at the meeting, the trustees:
• Heard a lightning strike to the administration building on Friday damaged the copier and phone and Internet service.
• Waived a zoning fee for a new home construction for the Welling family who is going to rebuild on the site where a June 2010 tornado destroyed their home. The fee is approximately $35.
• Entered into a labor warranty contract with CDS Telco for the phone system in the township administration building for $1,309 annually.
• Authorized an additional $1,273 to cover the cost of repairs made to the fire department's self-contained breathing apparatuses and peripherals by Fire Safety Services Inc.
• Voted to spend $1,100 for "class a" foam for the fire department from Finley Fire Equipment.
• Approved paying an additional $1,000 to Federal Field Services LLC for additional costs incurred during the narrow band siren upgrade process.
• Went into a 30-minute executive session to discuss fire personnel. No action was taken.
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