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Lot, burial costs to rise in Bedford Twp.

Board gives 1st reading to resolution; Hiking prices said long overdue

TEMPERANCE -- The cost of dying in Bedford Township is about to get more expensive.

The township board, with little discussion, last week gave first reading to a resolution that would more than quadruple the costs of basic burial lots in township cemeteries and double the fees for burial services.

The pending legislation, which sets prices for burial plots and costs for burying an individual, will have the most impact on the planned Bedford Memorial Gardens Cemetery on Lewis Avenue as the township's existing cemeteries are filled or plots have been purchased for future use.

Clerk Bob Schockman, a member of the township cemetery committee, said in an interview after the meeting that the price modifications are long overdue and are needed to recoup its costs for maintaining cemeteries and providing burial services.

"We have been losing money hand over foot on the current rates," he said. "We finally are charging what we are supposed to be charging."

Under the existing rate schedule, the township has an across-the board rate of $125 for burial plots. The new schedule applies different rates for township and nontownship residents as well as varying costs on monument, flat, and cremation graves.

However, beginning April 1, the township is offering the same discounted rates for three months to both township and nontownship residents. A $500 fee is being asked for monument and flat graves and $300 for cremation graves in the special, one-time pre-sale offering, which is designed to generate funds to get the construction under way on the new cemetery.

After July 1, the cost of buying a flat grave will jump to $600 for township residents and $900 for nonresidents and monument graves will rise to $750 for residents and $1,125 for nonresidents. As part of the motion, the cost of infant and cremation graves will be $300 for residents and nonresidents. The resolution also will put in place a rate schedule for funeral services at the cemeteries. Effective June 1, the cost of opening and closing a graves will rise from $300 to $600 for a regular burial.

The existing $350 charged for services on weekends, when workers have to be paid overtime, will jump to $750 on Saturdays and after 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, $900 on Sundays, and $1,200 on holidays.

The township has needed a new cemetery for years as its three cemeteries are either filled or close to capacity, leading township residents to purchase plots in Whiteford Union Cemetery in Whiteford Township or go to Toledo or elsewhere. Last year, there were 18 burials in the township cemeteries, compared to 9 in 2009 and 13 in 2008.

The township recently revamped the cemetery ordinance that was first adopted in 1981. Updates to the law approved by the board in February included the addition of definitions to clear up ambiguities, indigent burials, regulation of monuments and memorials, and provisions needed for the new cemetery.

Construction on the first phase of the cemetery at Lewis and Samaria roads is to begin in April, with completion expected in late summer at a cost of $450,000.

The township is borrowing money from its sewer fund to finance the first phase of the project and money made in the sales of plots during discounted rate campaign during the next three months will be used to repay the loan. The first phase is expected to cost $550,000, and will include more than 3,000 spaces.

In other action last week, the board approved employing David Wehner, a construction manager with Mannik & Smith Group Inc., the township's engineering firm for the project. The company designed the new cemetery. He will be paid $30,000. Mr. Wehner is a former township building official.

Mr. Wehner will serve as owner's representative on the project, similar to the role he had in the construction and remodeling of the fire station on Lewis Avenue in 2009 and construction of the Government Center in 2006.

Trustees Larry O'Dell and Paul Francis praised the engineering firm and Mr. Wehner for their previous work on township projects.

The board also approved the appointment of Garnet Francis to a vacancy on the township Park Board. Mrs. Francis, who is the wife of Mr. Francis, fills the unexpired term of Joe Blaze, who recently moved to Ida Township.

She becomes the second person appointed to the five-member board since January to fill unexpired terms of elected members. Connie Velliquette was appointed to the commission in January to replace Rick Garrett, who also moved out of the township.

The terms of Mrs. Francis and Mrs. Velliquette will expired at the end of 2012.

-- Mark Reiter

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