Colorado

Jul 7, 2014 8:09 PM by Zach Thaxton

The cost of dying: fee hikes proposed for city-run cemeteries

The cost of dying could go up for people planning to utilize the services of Colorado Springs' two city-run cemeteries.  Cemetery managers are proposing across-the-board fee hikes to help cover the cost of rising expenses.

"We haven't had a price increase in five years," said Will DeBoer, manager of Fairview Cemetery along 26th Street and the city's largest cemetery, Evergreen Cemetery at East Fountain Boulevard and Hancock Expressway.  "Periodically, the city cemeteries need to raise fees."

The cemeteries are a city enterprise and do not receive money from the city's general fund.  Instead they rely on the fees charged to users for services provided.  The enterprise pays for its own non-potable water, which DeBoer says has increased in cost by 35 percent in the past five years.  "The cost of water has gone up, the cost of labor -- we do a lot of contract mowing," DeBoer said.  "Those contracts have built-in increases into them."  The cemeteries themselves have a total of five full-time employees.

DeBoer is proposing fee increases of $50 to $100 for most services, resulting in percentage increases ranging from 6.7 percent to nearly 17 percent.  DeBoer says the $100 increase, on average, is a nominal amount compared to the nationwide average of $7,000 to $10,000 for a standard funeral with casket burial.  "Once you're buried in our cemeteries, you're there forever," DeBoer said.  "Plus, we take care of you from here until the end of time.  I can't think of a better deal."

DeBoer made his presentation to Colorado Springs City Council during its informal work session Monday.  Council was supportive of the proposed increases, except one.  DeBoer is proposing a 200 percent increase in the cost of an adult casket disinterment.  That would increase the price of an exhumation from $1,000 to $3,000.  DeBoer says exhumation of a body buried in the city's cemeteries doesn't happen often -- one to two times annually -- and is not a significant revenue source for the enterprise, but when it does happen, it is expensive and labor-intensive.  "We haven't changed the cost on that in probably about 20 years," DeBoer said.  "We live in a very transient society and people have no qualms about picking up loved ones and taking them with them."  DeBoer is particularly concerned about the forthcoming new national veterans cemetery coming to the Pikes Peak Region.  He is concerned that the number of people wanting to transfer their departed veterans' remains from Fairview or Evergreen to the new veterans cemetery may surge.  Several City Council members expressed concern that the $2,000 increase in the disinterment fee may discourage veterans' family members from transferring their remains. DeBoer agreed to consider reducing the amount of the proposed increase.

Below is a full list of the proposed increases:

BURIAL 2014 PRICE 2015 PROPOSED PRICE % INCREASE
Basic $800 $900 12.5%
Premium $1,100 $1,200 9.1%
Premier $1,500 $1,600 6.7%
Double Depth $1,850 $2,000 8.1% 

CREMATION 2014 PRICE 2015 PROPOSED PRICE % INCREASE 
Upright Stone $650 $700 7.7%
Flat Stone $450 $500 11.1%
Family Estate $1,200 $1,500 25.0%

DIG/FILL 2014 PRICE 2015 PROPOSED PRICE % INCREASE
Casket Burial $900 $1,000 11.1%
Cremation $450 $500 11.1%

Burial Vault $600 $700 16.7%

DISINTERMENT 2014 PRICE 2015 PROPOSED PRICE % INCREASE 
Adult Casket $1,000 $3,000 200%
Double Depth $1,550 $4,500 190.3%
Infant $325 $500 53.8%
Cremation $325 $500 53.8% 

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