Marion Selectmen question cemetery burial fees

Aug 11, 2020

MARION — It costs about $1,000 to bury a loved one in a cemetery in Marion, but about $51,000 yearly to maintain the grounds of the five cemeteries throughout town. 

Selectmen heard from Parks and Tree Committee Chair Margie Baldwin, Department of Public Works Office Manager Rebecca Tilden and Town Finance Director Judy Mooney at an Aug. 11 meeting about how much it costs to bury someone, where those funds go, and how the time is being spent on maintenance of the grounds. 

They also discussed the possibility of raising fees.

Currently, it costs $300 for a lot, $200 for perpetual care, and around $500 to pay for the burial (it can be more or less depending on if it’s on a weekday, weekend, holiday or a crematory burial.) 

In savings, the town has about $140,000 in its lot fund, $36,000 in its perpetual care fund, and $10,000 in its burial fund. Besides the burial fund, the accounts can only be accessed with an approval at Town Meeting. 

“It’s not very much,” Mooney said. 

Tilden said that Marion’s fees are much lower than the surrounding towns. 

“The perpetual fee is ridiculous” how low it is, Town Administrator Jay McGrail said.

He also pointed out that the foundation fee, or the fee used to set in the headstone in place, is $195 at the most. For other towns in the area, $195 is the base foundation fee. 

Although many suggested looking at other towns as a model for Marion’s fees, Selectman John Waterman said that the town needs to base its fees on what it needs.

“Most people don’t know much work is put in there [at the cemeteries,]” said Tilden. 

To make an informed decision though, Mooney said that “we need to look at the big picture,” to see what it costs to maintain the grounds.