By Linda Collins
For the Herald
MAD RIVER TOWNSHIP – Burying love ones will now cost more for patrons of the Enon Cemetery.
The Mad River Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved increasing fees for most services at the cemetery in an effort to offset rising operation costs, according to Township Trustee Kathy Estep.
“The current fees no longer generate enough revenue to pay for the perpetual care of the cemetery,” Estep said during Monday, Oct. 3 township meeting. “The last time we increased these prices was in February 2010.”
The trustees raised the standard weekday price of opening and closing a burial site for an adult to $900, which reflects a $300 increase. However, they chose not to increase the weekday rate for opening and closing an infant’s gravesite. The fee for that service will continue to cost patrons $200.
Fees for Saturday services will continue to carry a higher price tag for patrons, and they can expect an increase in interment fees as well. The opening and closing of an adult’s gravesite will now cost $1,200 instead of $850. However, the fee for opening and closing an infant’s gravesite on Saturday will continue to cost $250.
The trustees more than doubled the weekday fee for opening and closing a burial site for cremated remains. That fee hiked from $250 to $600, and the rate for Saturday openings and closings jumped from $450 to $900, doubling that fee for patrons. A maximum of eight urns will be allowed per gravesite. A fee of $150 will be charged for additional cremains in one grave space.
Both the weekend and Saturday fees for opening and closing the columbarium will now cost patrons $450. A niche in the columbarium, which can accommodate two standard size urns, will now cost $1,000.
The new cost of a grave space for residents will come with a price tag of $900, an increase of $300. A grave space for non-residents will now cost $1,500, which also reflects a $300 increase.
Estep said the changes in the fees for grave plots and interments would help reduce the future burden on the townships budget. She also explained that the board of trustees used an annual survey that compared cemetery fees in Ohio that was conducted by Symmes Township, located in Hamilton County.
“Our township had some of the lowest fees among the Ohio townships that were surveyed,” said Estep.
Township Trustee Joe Catanzaro told residents that the cost for maintaining all the equipment in the cemetery had increased and was significantly higher than what they were when the fees were reestablished in 2010.
During the residents’ comment portion of the meeting, Robin Barry and Jennifer Hawks express their dismay and concerns with the current conditions of the cemetery.
“I myself have done a lot of the maintenance over there. Sometimes, the cemetery looks overgrown and unkempt,” said Barry.
According to Catanzaro, other families with loved ones buried at the local cemetery had complained about the conditions, which were once considered pristine.
“We are tuned into the problems at the cemetery, and we will be doing better,” Catanzaro said.
Trustee President Robert McClure Jr. also pointed out that the township had not employed a full-time cemetery sexton for several years due to budget cuts.
“Currently, Don O’Connor assumes multiple roles, including cemetery sexton and township road superintendent; and he has spent much of the spring and summer months this year working on the Rocky Point Road Project,” McClure said. “We just need more manpower.”
Hawks also expressed her thoughts about the list of rules posted at the entrance to the cemetery.
“The rules are not being enforced, and flowers and other items should not be there unless they are mounted on the cement foundations or the headstones,” Hawks said. “I understand that the township trustees have asked patrons of the cemetery to respect the rules, but I believe you are going to have to reinforce those rules much more.”