Cemetery board explores means to revive funding


MONTE VISTA— Funding is tight for the Monte Vista Cemetery Board and that was the main topic of discussion in their monthly meeting held last Tuesday, April 3.

While reviewing the finances at the beginning of the meeting, the board noted four spaces had been sold in March. Kirk Thompson explained the board puts away 15 percent of plot sales annually to the perpetual care fund, which was designed as a savings cushion to maintain the cemetery after it has ceased to function because it has become full or otherwise not sustainable. The board has, over the years, needed to use that fund for operating expenses but always keeps a $10,000 base saved there. Board President Kathy Ellithorpe added she shared in Thompson’s hope to rebuild that fund “you never know when you’ll need it.”

Later in the meeting the board met with Edward Jones Financial Advisor Michelle Roepke about options to consider for growing the funds in the perpetual care fund. Roepke offered several options for the board to consider, including a Money Market fund and two options for mutual funds.

The board discussed the possibility of raising full burial fees to $500 but leaving cremain burial fees at $275. The board noted the current charge of $350 does not leave them with an adequate profit after paying someone $125 to open and close the grave, often in addition to propane for thawing. Ellithorpe noted “we need to charge enough to make a little.” The board also agreed funeral homes should continue to provide the setup for the graveside services as they are often charging the families for these already, but noted the cemetery is facing several expenses and maintenance challenges and the burial fees need to help keep the cemetery sustainable in the long term. The board ultimately tabled the increase until a later meeting so they can compare their rates to other local cemeteries. The Alamosa cemetery, which is also maintained by the city unlike Monte Vista’s, charges over $600 for burials.

Fundraising options over Memorial Day weekend and fundraising letters were also discussed. Cemetery Manager Kay Harmon emphasized informing donors the cemetery would not be able to expect a fully watered cemetery throughout the entire area this year; the pumping fees for their water rates could be between $3-$6,000 for their shares in the Rio Grande/Piedra ditch and Monte Vista Canal. The shares are unlikely to provide the 140-160 acre feet of water the cemetery uses when trying to water the entire premises.

In addition to the donation letter, the board agreed to explore hosting an ice cream social over Memorial Day weekend. The board will serve complementary ice cream on Sunday, May 27 near the chapel.

Other business discussed at the meeting included the urgency of finding groundskeeping help, with the board looking into hiring a part-time person to monitor the watering in April and May before volunteer groups can step in for the remainder of the summer. Groups who have volunteered include the Monte Vista Rotary and a Mennonite church group. The board also expressed their thanks to Jeff Harmon for volunteering to complete a burial over Easter weekend, in addition to thanking Schaefer, Jim Clare and Scott Deacon for preparing the ditches for water in the next few days.

The board also approved the revised bylaws, and policy and procedure manual, in addition to accepting the resignation letter of former board President Charlie Spielman.

The next Monte Vista Cemetery Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 1 a


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