Maintenance costs continue to be an issue at the Pleasant Valley Cemetery in Vernon.

Maintenance costs continue to be an issue at the Pleasant Valley Cemetery in Vernon.

Vernon cemetery reviewed as costs climb

Staff recommended Monday that fees for plots and other services climb 10 per cent in 2017, 2018 and 2019

The City of Vernon is reviewing cemetery policies as public attitudes about burials evolve.

Staff recommended Monday that fees for plots and other services climb 10 per cent in 2017, 2018 and 2019, but council only agreed to 2017.

“Every year, there are fewer burials and more people are going with cremation. A lot of people don’t even buy a plot,” said Coun. Catherine Lord.

As a result, the city’s cemetery care fund is not growing.

“In the future, we will need more tax money to maintain the cemetery,” said Lord, adding that it doesn’t make sense to hike fees over three years.

“We need a plan for the cemetery so we can look at the cost of burial plots.”

Staff called for a 10 per cent hike in fees in 2017, 2018 and 2019 because of increasing operational costs.

“The contract costs to operate the cemetery in 2015 have increased 15.3 per cent since 2013, representing a total annual increase of $21,700,” said Debra Law, financial planning manager, in a report.

“The City has also paid for water since 2012. The cost to provide water has almost doubled since then, with the 2016 year to date cost at $40,768.”

The cemetery care fund is a trust and only the interest earned can be used for maintenance. It amounted to $18,700 in 2015.

In 2011, there were 69 regular burials and 133 cremated remains buried, but in 2015, there were 64 regular burials and 145 cremated remains buried.