Supervisors considering future of county-paid burials

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


Presenting the CDS 2019 fiscal budget, Sara Berndt proposed to increase the number of burials paid for by the county or consider nixing the program.

During her monthly update at the Henry County Board of Supervisors meeting on Thursday, Jan. 25, Berndt said that there is only money left in the budget to pay for one more burial for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, which ends June 30. Currently, the county pays up to $2,000 for nine burials within the county. Berndt proposed upping that number to 10 or even 11, with the county using almost all of the funds for the last few years.

Henry County Auditor Shelly Barber said that the county usually uses all the burials, but ?not usually this quickly.?

Berndt reminded Supervisors that the county is not legally required to pay for any burials, and suggested setting a limit on the number of burials the county paid for each year, decreasing the amount they pay per burial or limiting the number of burials paid for per funeral home. Greg Moeller even suggested decreasing the amount they pay for burials from $2,000 to $1,750 to increase the amount of burials the county is able to pay for by just a couple.

Supervisors voiced concern about who would be fiscally responsible for those burials that family members are not able to cover the cost of. ?So the funeral homes take the hits?? Barber questioned.

Supervisor Marc Lindeen suggested inviting funeral directors into a future Supervisors meeting to ask for guidance on this issue.

Mayor Steve Brimhall also presented a budget request for Henry County Fair and 4-H during Thursday?s meeting, asking for $23,000 from the county. This is the same amount Brimhall requested last year when he received $20,000.

This year, Brimhall wants to see the county focus on kids? days with fewer and fewer carnivals coming to county fairs every year. ?The fair is really to serve as a showcase of the talents of the youth of the community,? Brimhall said.

They also will continue to highlight agriculture in the community through the family dinner, with donations going to stall fees for 4-H students.