December 10, 2013 - 2:09 PM
VERNON - Planning ahead could save you money—if you’re willing to purchase a cemetery plot before New Year’s.
Operational costs for the cemetery on Pleasant Valley Road have risen by 20 per cent over the last three years, leaving the city digging for money. The city’s finance manager Kevin Bertles says revenue isn’t enough to pay the bills, leaving a shortfall in its wake.
“It’s enough to cause some concern,” Bertles told council at a meeting Monday.
To balance the books, the city approved a rate increase of 33 per cent for 2014, bringing the cost of regular adult plots to $970 from $725. The increase applies across the board to the burial of residents, non-residents and children alike, as well as cremation services, and all other fees from exhumation to memorial installations. The rates will eventually increase by 61 per cent in 2016.
Over the past decade, internment trends have shifted from plots to cremated burials (which runs about $500 cheaper). This has significantly reduced the revenue generated by the facility, which hasn’t raised its fees in five years.
Coun. Catherine Lord notes the new rates are reasonable compared to what other cities charge, and will improve the quality of maintenance at the cemetery.
“There have been a couple of complaints last year, because a few people, on special occasions like mother’s day, they go there and maybe the maintenance was done a few days before and there’s dead grass on the graves. People want where their loved ones are to be maintained,” Lord said.
But that level of care requires a certain amount of manpower currently unaffordable, Lord says.
“It (rate increase) is difficult,” Lord says. “You’re hitting them at a time when they’re grieving. (Although) a lot of people buy their plot ahead of time. It’s not like an ongoing utility bill, it’s a one time cost.”
Meanwhile, the city is also trying to put money away for future expansion of the cemetery, as capacity is diminishing.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.
This story was edited at 2:40 p.m. to include further information from Kevin Bertles.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013