Town OKs new cemetery rates, fees

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PENDLETON — Pendleton approved new rates and fees for Grovelawn Cemetery, including the prices for its new ossuarium, a large above-ground cylindrical structure that includes individual spaces for urns as well as an internal area with additional space.
The cost for traditional burial are increasing from $900 for a plot and $900 to open and close the gravesite, to $1,500 for a plot and $1,500 for opening and closing. Those prices — which take effect June 1 — are set to rise $500 per year for the two years as part of a three-year phase-in at the town-owned cemetery.
“How does these new prices or what we’re looking at here compare to Memorial Park,” Councilman Chet Babb asked during the May 11 regular meeting.
“It’s less,” responded Pendleton town manager Scott Reske, who has been a proponent of reassessing cemetery fees so they more accurately reflect associated costs, including those associated with ongoing maintenance of the cemetery.
“I just didn’t want us pricing ourselves out,” Babb said.
Reske added that the prices are “in line” with other cemeteries in the area.
The cost for spaces in the ossuarium, which was installed in April, start at $400 and go up to $3,200, depending on location in the structure.
The ossuarium is 8 1/2 feet tall with a diameter of about 8 feet. It’s a combination of a columbarium (a tower with individual niches around the outside) and ossuary (common space in the middle).
It was installed at the cemetery in April and cost the town about $140,000, including site preparation, landscaping and other work.
Reske was one of the main forces behind adding the ossuarium, which he previously has said is a response to demand, in light of increasing rates of cremation.
There are 168 niches around the outside of the structure. Each niche has an interior space of about a square foot and can hold one or two urns. There’s a granite frontplate facing the outside.
The cost for a niche ranges from $1,500 to $3,200, depending on the location on the column, with an opening and closing cost of $400. There’s a $350 cost for etching information on the frontplate.
The ossuary, located behind the niches in the center of the structure, can hold 495 sets of cremated remains, or cremains, in soft urns, or bags.
The cost for a space in the ossuary is $400, with a $300 open and close fee that can be waived if there is no service.
“Our cemetery is pretty straightforwardly priced,” Council President Marissa Skaggs said. “In the research that I did, you go to some surrounding ones and there are literally 12 different price brackets depending on where you are, what section it is, all of those things, and so ours are by far the most simple as far as the price structure, which I thought was nice for our customers.”
Other prices in the ordinance include an “additional after hours closing fee” of $250 for the first two hours, and each hour afterward.
Rules listed in the ordinance include: fees do not include urns; no Sunday or holiday burials; after hours are burials started after 2 p.m. on Saturdays; no ossuary fee for infants, but etching and open/close fees apply.
The council passed the ordinance unanimously, voting on the first and second (final) readings on Thursday, after approving a suspension of the rules to do so.
In other business, the council also:
Approved some amendments to the town’s Unified Development Ordinance, which has been an ongoing effort. One change permits some mural signage at downtown businesses. “The mural signage is something we added as an allowed signage-style in downtown business, and that was coordinated with a recommendation from HPC (Historic Preservation Commission),” Pendleton Planning Director Hannahrose Urbanski said. “We do have some historic mural signage down here. So, before it was completely prohibited and now it is under their (HPC) approval to permit.” Elsewhere, a list of permitted building materials was reworked to include a generic description of materials and remove brand names, she said.
Approved the first reading of an amendment that enables the town to temporarily change and enforce a speed limit along a road as long as speed limit signage is posted at the start and end of the reduced speed zone.
Approved the first reading of an ordinance “establishing hourly labor charges for electrical, water, street, cemetery and general services.” The changes were made to make the rates more competitive in the labor market, the ordinance states. The rates are for what the town bills outside entities for employees’ time and do not reflect employee salaries, Skaggs later emphasized. Some of the charges include hourly rates of $142 for town manager, $117 for police chief, and $72 for water and street supervisors. It also includes hourly rates for town equipment ranging from $20 for a mower to $110 for a backhoe. The ordinance includes an automatic 3% annual rate increase.
Approved the first reading of a resolution that directs disputes of local ordinance violations to Anderson City Court or Elwood City Court as of Jan. 1, 2024. Currently such disputes go to Pendleton Town Court, which is set for dissolution permanently on Dec. 31. The ordinance states that to “partially replace” town court services, Pendleton will establish an ordinance bureau, “by which those cited for an ordinance violation in the Town of Pendleton can pay any penalty or fine contemplated by the violation.”