Published by Globe and Mail, Monday, June 2nd, 2014
Re: The Soaring Cost of Cemetery Plots to Die For (Report on Business Magazine, May 30th) People buy plots and contribute to a “perpetual care” fund, so cemeteries must be cleaning up financially – right?
No, mostly wrong.
Cemeteries don’t just put boxes in the ground and forget them.. They have to maintain the grounds. Any idea what it costs to cut 60 acres of grass 10 to 15 times a season and, with luck, not damage any gravestones? Tens of thousands of dollars.
What it costs to maintain the paperwork to trace the location of bodies over a century or two? To set a stone upright after it has fallen over? (Hint: You may need a crane.) Remove a fallen or falling tree? And so on.
Perpetual-care funds? Ha- that refers to the interest generated by perhaps a couple of hundred thousand of otherwise untouchable dollars every year.
These funds at most generate 1 to – with luck – 1.5 percent interest; 1 percent of say $250,000 is $2500. With that magnificent sum, you have to run the cemetery (see above note re: costs). And if the company (for- or not-for profit) fails to meet its obligations, the matter gets dumped on municipalities, already stretched to the limit financially.
The future of cemeteries is not clear; the article makes good points about that. But I think the real focus should have been on some of the realities of cemetery financial management with no real money to pay for it – leaving aside funeral homes, which are a totally different matter.
–Mary Lazier Corbett, Picton, Ont.