TEMPERANCE -- Bedford Township trustees have passed a resolution creating a perpetual care fund to cover the operation and maintenance of township cemeteries.
Under legislation approved unanimously last week by the township board, a yet-to-be-determined percentage of money from burial services will go into the new fund.
The township uses general fund money for cemetery maintenance.
Clerk Bob Schockman said that without the perpetual-care fund, Bedford someday might be without the revenue to care for the cemeteries.
"Right now we are taking money from the general fund," he said. "The fees involved are for the costs of burials and not the sales of the lots."
The township has been tweaking its long-established cemetery ordinance as it prepares to break ground on Bedford Memorial Gardens Cemetery at Lewis Avenue and Samaria Road, the first new cemetery in many years.
The 14-acre cemetery, which will be built in phases, will provide needed burial space as plots in the existing township cemeteries have been filled or plots have been purchased for future use.
The board last month set the new rate structure for burial plots and cremation graves and costs associated for burying an individual. The old rate of $125 per burial plot was replaced with higher fees that range from $600 for flat grave to $750 for monument graves if the buyers are township residents. An out-of-township purchaser will pay $900 and $1,125 for the same graves, respectively.
The rate structure also set fees of $600, effective June 1, for opening and closing a grave for services at cemeteries. The costs on weekends, when workers are paid overtime, will jump to $750 on Saturdays and after 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, $900 on Sundays, and $1,200 on holidays.
Lisa Grossi, an attorney for the township, said during the meeting that the perpetual-care fund is not required under Michigan law but many townships have the endowments to cover cemeteries.
"The funds are to be separate from any other funds," she said. "The funds will build up through the years and the money is designated explicitly for the care and maintenance of the cemeteries the cemeteries can go on and on through the years looking nice."
The township board also amended its 1981 cemetery ordinance to expand the size of infant/stillborn and cremation burial space and setting the size of monument burial spaces at 4 feet by 9 feet.
Mr. Schockman said, "We are modernizing the ordinance to bring it into today's standards."