An article in today’s Tweed Daily News stating that Tweed Shire Council proposes to increase its fees for burials (single adult) from $556 to $3928 in 2009/2010 is incorrect, the council says.

The council said the proposed increase in the 2009/2010 Draft Fees and Charges is $556, taking the fee for a single adult burial from $3372 to $3928.

“The proposed increases in cemetery fees are designed to cover the substantial costs of cemetery operation and ongoing maintenance so that cemetery operations do not represent an increasing burden on ratepayers now and in the future,” the council said.

“Included in the adult burial fee is: the land for burial in perpetuity (ie forever), digging and backfilling of the plot, lowering device, matting, chairs, portable chapel, standard plaque with a concrete base plus maintenance in perpetuity.

“Any comparison with other local government areas is difficult as fee structures vary.

“For instance, Gold Coast City Council’s burial fee does not include a plaque. Lismore City Council’s 2008/09 fee is $3300 for a burial site. This does not include the cost for a plaque (which is included in Tweed Shire Council’s fee and is generally around $550), making Lismore’s total cost around $3850.

“Council maintains 10 cemeteries. Eviron Lawn Cemetery is the main operating cemetery which is expected to cater for the requirements of the Tweed for the foreseeable future.

“Murwillumbah Lawn and Tweed Lawn cemeteries have no new allotments but still have regular ‘reopenings’ and reserved burial sites still to be utilised.”

Council’s Manager Recreation Services Stewart Brawley said the proposed fee structure represents the actual cost to Council to undertake a burial and maintain the site in perpetuity.

“While maintenance in perpetuity has always been an expectation when purchasing a burial site, the fees have not reflected this and consequently, without these amendments to the fee structure, the ongoing maintenance of the shire’s cemeteries would be unsustainable and continue to represent an increasing burden on ratepayers,” he said.

The council says it is undertaking a business planning process for the shire’s cemeteries which will undertake financial analysis and make recommendations to optimise the future management of the cemeteries to ensure their sustainability for current and future generations.