ST. GEORGE — The aging St. George City Cemetery will begin seeing incremental improvements as issues like sinking grave sites and water-damaged headstones are addressed.
In order to fund the improvements, the St. George City Council voted Thursday to increase some cemetery fees.
One-time plot fees and perpetual care fees will each increase by $100 at both the St. George City and Tonaquint cemeteries.
“This is not excessive and it is certainly in keeping with what we see in surrounding communities, and it really is fair,” Councilman Ed Baca said of the fee hike.
Mayor Jon Pike said the price is comparable with surrounding communities.
“Our staff has done a comparison,” he said, “and I think we’re still very reasonable.”
The fee increase will help provide the labor, tools, supplies and materials necessary to perform essential maintenance like raising collapsing monuments and markers and leveling collapsing gravesites.
“That would provide approximately $70,000 per year,” St. George City Leisure Services director Shane McAffee said of the revenue projected to be generated by the fee increase, “which would help us to take care of that.”
However, the fee increase only goes so far in addressing the cemeteries’ need for elevated standards of upkeep.
“Some other things that we discussed that won’t be taken care of by the fee increase,” McAffee said, “is the need to go ahead and look at switching the Virgin River water to culinary water because of the damage being done to headstones and the damage to the trees that are dying in the cemetery.”
Further improvements under consideration for the St. George City Cemetery include a fence around the property and installation of an information kiosk, new sidewalks and park restrooms.
Cemetery staff also suggested hiring additional part-time employees in a previous work meeting with the City Council.
McAffee requested the city look into acquiring additional property for another cemetery as the current ones are running out of space.
Pike said the council determined to make future improvements incrementally.
“We could have gone more,” he said, “but I think the feedback we provided to Shane and company was, ‘Let’s do what’s necessary incrementally; we don’t have to do it all at once.’”
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