City officials say Park Cemetery has been operating at a deficit. (File photo)
City officials say Park Cemetery has been operating at a deficit. (File photo)
GREENFIELD — For the first time in over 15 years, Greenfield’s municipal cemetery is raising its prices. Prices for plots, burials and other services will go up starting May 12 by approximately 20% to 30% to cover the costs of the cemetery’s operations.

Tyler Rankins, the Greenfield street commissioner, who oversees Park Cemetery, said he conducts a review at the end of each year to compare the cemetery’s costs to its revenue.

“Since 2015, we’ve been running in the negative each year,” Rankins said.

The city last raised the prices at its municipal cemetery in 2005. In the meantime, inflation and prices for things like equipment and the cost of paying labor have continued to rise.

“Our budget did go up, but the prices didn’t go up,” Mayor Chuck Fewell said.

Rankins said that results in the taxpayers subsidizing the cemetery’s operations, because money that could be spent on other city priorities is being used to cover its shortfalls. This year, he said, he and other city officials estimated the costs of operating the cemetery in 2022 at $225,000. They decided to set the prices of services at what they estimated would lead to revenues of $235,000, to cover the costs plus some extra in case fewer burials than expected take place.

“We’re not looking to make a profit — being a municipal cemetery, we can’t make a profit,” Rankins said, “but we also don’t want to be a drain on the city government.”

For a single standard cemetery plot, the price will be increased from $625 to $800. For infant grave plots, the price will go from $175 to $225. Grave plots can also be purchased on contract with a down-payment of $100, with the balance payable within 90 days.

In addition, the burial charges for the opening and closing of a grave will also increase from $625 to $800, and infant burial prices from $175 to $225. For a cremation burial, the cost will go from $275 to $350. For burials that are paid for by Medicaid, the cemetery will continue to receive the amount of $225, which is set by the state government. There’s also an additional charge for services held on Saturdays.

Cemetery plots are bought by individuals or families, generally before the person who will be buried there has died. The responsibility for paying the burial costs rests with the funeral homes the cemetery works with, but the funeral homes are in turn reimbursed by the families of the deceased.

For disinterment or other removal of remains, such as in an investigation of a crime or because a body is being moved, the standard price will increase from $1,250 to $1,600. For infant burials, those costs will go from $350 to $450, and for cremation burials, from $550 to $700.

If a deceased person didn’t pay for a grave plot ahead of time and doesn’t have family members who can pay for one at the time of their death, they can instead be buried on “free ground” — essentially a pauper grave, without a grave marker.

For that, the cost will stay the same, set at $250 for a standard burial and $150 for an infant or cremation burial.

If family members later want to add a grave marker, Rankins said, they need to purchase the grave plot where their loved one is interred.

Fewell said the city has informed all area funeral homes about the increases in pricing. At the Stillinger Family Funeral Home, owner David Stillinger — who is also the Hancock County coroner — said he thinks the city’s price increase is justified.

“Compared to other cemeteries, it’s very economical, and they do a great job for the money that they charge,” he said.

Stillinger said Park Cemetery is well-run and is less expensive than other area cemeteries, both those in Indianapolis and others within the county, like New Palestine Cemetery.

“Greenfield’s fortunate to have a really nice cemetery,” he said.
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