Cemetery fee saga continues

Gloucester cemetery has historically been the most expensive place to bury loved ones in the Mid Coast region.
Gloucester cemetery has historically been the most expensive place to bury loved ones in the Mid Coast region.

At MidCoast Council's the final ordinary meeting for 2019, councillors voted to table a report which outlines how the cemetery fees across the region will be harmonised.

It's proposed that incremental increases to cemetery fees be made inline with council's annual fees and charges review with the entire process due to take five years.

Council is in the second year of the process which will see all the fees harmonised in the 2022/23 financial year.

Within the report there is a table which clearly outlines the disparity in fees between the three former councils.

Some of the big ticket items left to be harmonised in the next three years for the general cemeteries include total grave fee, plot reservation and reservation of grave site.

In regard to the total grave fee, Gloucester residents pay $3500, while Great Lakes and Greater Taree residents pay $2175; a difference of $1325.

For plot and grave site reservations, Gloucester pays $1730, while these items are separate for Great Lakes and Greater Taree; a plot reservation is $1042 (a difference of $688) and a site reservation is $357 (a difference of $1373).

The table in the MidCoast Council report outlining the difference in cemetery fees across the region.

The table in the MidCoast Council report outlining the difference in cemetery fees across the region.

While Greater Taree and Great Lakes residents will be feeling the increase in these areas, Gloucester residents will see a change in fees for children's burials. Gloucester has a $2600 fee for children under 16 years old, whereas the new structure will adopt Great Lakes and Greater Taree breakdown of $1250 for stillborn or up to 6 months and $1566 for over 6 months and up to 6 years. This item is indicated to be included for all cemeteries, but no timeline is stated.

During the meeting, councillor Katheryn Smith raised a motion for council to consider harmonising the fees sooner, but the motion loss and council voted to note the report as recommended in the council papers, with only Cr Smith voting against the motion.

It was also noted in the report under community impacts that existing reservations will be honoured, but future reservations in several areas will be negatively impacted by an increase in prices that are over and above the typical Consumer Price Index increase applied by council.