Town leaders are discussing how much they charge for burying cremains, or a person’s cremated remains, after an attorney said the current fee is too high.
Clayton charges $900 for all adult interments, or the opening and closing of a grave. In a letter to the Clayton Town Council on July 23, Benson attorney James Levinson says that fee is unreasonable for the burial of cremains, a process that he said involves digging an 18-inch hole and burying a cloth bag no larger than a coffee cup.
Levinson, representing a local family who recently paid the fee, asked the town to reconsider how much it charges. “Particularly, when the families may be facing a lot of other bills, it is simply too much,” he said in the letter.
“I can certainly understand that cost if the town has to bring in a backhoe and dig a hole big enough for a casket and then cover it up, but you may want to revisit that cost,” he went on to say.
Some towns charge two different fees for interments, one for a body and one for cremains. The fee for cremains is often less.
Clayton Town Manager Steve Biggs said the town never set a separate fee for burying cremains after taking over maintenance at cemeteries last year.
At the Town Council’s Aug. 18 meeting, Biggs presented a survey of what 10 other towns and funeral homes charge for burying cremains. The average fee was $440, or less than half of what Clayton charges.
Biggs told the council he did not have a recommendation about how much to reduce the cost by, saying he wanted feedback first.
Councilman Michael Grannis said he was open to discussing the matter. “I am amenable to reevaluating our fees to include cremains interment and deciding whether or not to have separate fees,” he said.
Mayor Jody McLeod agreed, asking also that the council review whether to allow burials on weekends and holidays. The town currently provides cemetery maintenance Monday through Friday.
“A lot of times that Sunday service is more beneficial and less stressful for families,” McLeod said.
McLeod said the fee for burials on weekends could be higher than on weekdays. “It would be nice to have an option for families,” he said.
In addition to the $900 interment fee, Clayton charges $100 for grave markers. Biggs said while the town might lower the fee for burying cremains, the $100 fee for markers would continue to apply to all graves.