The Cemetery Commission is considering raising fees for grave lots and burials.
Editor's Note: The information in this story is incorrect as the Cemetery Commission was working off outdated cemetery fees. The commissioners plan to meet soon with the right prices to work on.
ADAMS, Mass. — The Cemetery Commission is looking to raise grave lot fees to cover needed repairs to the town's cemeteries.
The commission compared current rates to those of surrounding municipalities to see where they fit in the spectrum. Currently, Adams has the highest rates compared to Williamstown, Cheshire and North Adams.
Chairman Robert Ciempa said Adams has always had higher fees.
"We are already in the ballpark; in some cases we are a little bit higher," Ciempa said at Thursday's meeting. "In the 13 years I have been part of the commission, we have always been a step above the other towns, and they have always looked to us."
Currently a single grave lot costs $475; a double lot $950; four-grave lot $1,800 and an eight-grave lot $3,800, all including perpetual care.
These prices are greater than North Adams, which is also raising its fees.
North Adams how charges $275 for a lot including perpetual care. Its Cemetery Commission has proposed a $125 increase to all grave prices, which still keeps the city's prices lower than Adams.
Currently Adam's interment costs for adults is $325 for a weekday, $550 on Saturday, and $575 on Sunday. Children are $75 on a weekday, $100 on Saturday, and $125 on Sunday.
Cremations cost $125 on a weekday, $150 on Saturday and $200 on Sunday.
Ciempa said he rather not touch the price of the lot sales, but would like to see the deed increase from $30 to $50. He also would like to raise all interment costs by $75, including cremations, and child interment costs by $25.
Commissioner Lawrence Clairmont had more drastic changes in mind and thought the commission should raise all grave lots by $150. This would bring a single lot grave to $625 and a double lot to $1,250, both including perpetual care.
He, too, thought adult interment should be raised by $75. He also wanted to raise child interment costs so they are closer to adult prices so the cemeteries could at least "break even."
Clairmont also supported increases in cremation fees.
Ciempa felt that many of Clairmont’s prices were "shocking" and his fees were way above other municipalities.
Clairmont said the lot increases are a must because lot sales replenish the investment account, which is the primary account used for making repairs to the cemeteries.
"We have only a little over $100,000 in our investment account, and $100,000 is not going to get us far," he said. "The fees for opening the graves and burials goes into the general fund, and … the only money that comes into the cemetery is from the sale of graves and the perpetual care. The only money the cemetery actually makes to do anything comes from the investment fund."
He said there is nearly $1 million in projects needed in the town's cemeteries that the commission has been putting off because it cannot afford it.
Other municipalities can afford cheaper rates because they have more money in their investment accounts, he said.
"I am not saying we have to go with what I have, but we have to increase the sale of lots," Clairmont said.
The commission decided to revisit the fee increases during their next meeting.
"We all have each other's thoughts on this," Ciempa said. "We can think about it for a month and all come back here we can discuss it."
The commission would like to have new fees instituted by October.