Union Township Trustees to review cemetery budget

By Kristin Rover
Sun staff

Mt. Moriah Cemetery has been a topic of discussion at several recent Union Township Trustee meetings.

Trustees have been discussing the cemetery division and if it is possible to balance expenses and revenue.

Union Township Administrator Ken Geis presented information to the board during the Feb. 13 meeting about the cemetery division.

“At the last meeting I received questions from the board,” Union Township Administrator Ken Geis said.

Geis put together a presentation for trustees that highlighted the services at the cemetery, its history and expenses and revenue.

He said under the Ohio Revised Code, trustees are responsible for the cemeteries in the township.

“You have to maintain a cemetery if you’re going to run it,” Geis said.

Geis said he is proud of the job that the trustees and service department employees have done with the cemetery in the township since he has been administrator.

He said the township has made upgrades to the cemetery over the past few years.

“It is nice now,” Geis said. “We have people take pictures there. Other folks use it because it is a nice setting. Over time we have made it a place for the living.”

Geis said the fees at the cemetery are comparable to other cemeteries in the area.

He said since 2009 they have charged $550 for resident graves, and $1,500 for non-resident graves.

He said they also offer residents a scatter garden for cremated remains for $350 for residents and $700 for non-residents.

“We are pretty much in line with other cemeteries in the area,” Geis said about the current fees.

Geis said 17,787 people are buried in the cemetery. He said there are only 3,600 plots still available.

He said the expenses at the cemetery are approximately $650,000 a year and the cemetery operation generates about $300,000 per year.

Geis said expenses at the cemetery are similar to expenses at the township parks including snow and debris removal, paving, grass cutting, monument maintenance and more.

“It is everything like in a park plus the monuments,” Geis said. “You could consider it the same as a park that is used 365 days per year.”

Geis said he views the cemetery as an amenity in the township.

Geis said currently, the township is using the general fund to offset the approximately $350,000 deficit from the cemetery fund.

Geis said trustees have several options when it comes to creating more revenue for the cemetery operation.

“One is to take no action, and to continue to use the general fund or other revenue sources,” Geis said.

Geis said trustees could raise fees at the cemetery to generate more revenue.

He said trustees could establish a fund for a specific period of time to be used for the cemetery, or escrow a continuing source of revenue to pay for shortfall. He said both options would require funds up front.

Lastly, he said trustees could choose to impose an inside millage tax for the cemetery.

“It would go on the tax bill for property in Union Township,” he said.

Trustees thanked Geis for the putting together the presentation.

“I really appreciate that,” Trustee John McGraw said.

Trustee Matthew Beamer said he is very proud of the cemetery in the township.

“It is certainly a nice place,” Beamer said. “It is a benefit to have a cemetery. The people who work here do a fantastic job.”

During the March 13 trustee meeting, Union Township resident and former trustee Tim Donnellon, asked Trustee John McGraw whether or not he plans to move forward with any options to balance the cemetery budget.

McGraw said he feels there are two ways to look at the cemetery, first as a business or second as a park and asset to the community.

McGraw said he thinks it will take time to work out a solution. He said he would like to have a work session to further discuss the options, and he also encouraged members of the community to come forward with any concerns or suggestions.