Manti raises price of cemetery lots from 12 to 200 percent

MANTI—The Manti City Council has voted to raise the cost of a lot in the city cemetery from 12 to 200 percent, depending whether or not the person being buried was a city resident at time of death. The increase was the first since 2004.

At the meeting in early April where the council took the action, Kent Barton, city manager, said cemetery space is starting to run short, and the city needs to control demand for lots through pricing, particularly lots for people who may have had a connection to Manti, but who had not lived in the city for many years.

“Communities need to watch and make sure [their cemeteries] don’t get overbuilt before the city has the ability to [put in] a new cemetery,” Barton told the council.

If Manti had to build a new cemetery right now, he said, it would be looking at costs similar to what it cost to put in the Manti City Sports Park. Property, a sprinkler system and fencing would probably come to $5 million, which would exceed any reserve funds the city has in the bank.

Barton said area where lots are now being sold, located north of the historic area of the cemetery, has 500 lots left. They cemetery has land further north of the developed area with space for 4,500 lots.

Based on past experience, the existing cemetery will last for 30 years. “But that’s going to depend on growth and on our ability to manage how many burials we have,” Barton said.

The council voted to raise the cost of a cemetery lot for a current resident, with perpetual care, from $400 to $450, a 12.5 percent increase. There will also be a charge of $400 on weekdays, and $550 on weekends, holidays and after hours, for burial (including digging the grave). So for a resident, the total cost of a burial will range from $850 to $1,000.

For someone who lived in the unincorporated area between Sterling and Ephraim, but was connected to Manti City utilities, the cost of a lot and perpetual care will go from $550 in the past to $1,200 now. Internment will be $600 to $750, bring total costs to $1,800 for a weekday burial, and $1,950 for a burial on weekends, holidays or after hours.

The big jump will be for non-residents. Barton said because burial costs have risen sharply on the Wasatch Front, more former residents or people with ancestral connections are requesting lots in the Manti City Cemetery.

The cost of a lot, plus perpetual care, for a nonresident will double. The tab will go from $1,250 to $2,500, with an additional charge of $800 to $1,000 for the actual burial. That will bring the total cost to $3,300 to $3,500.

Councilwoman Mary Wintch asked if charges on the Wasatch Front will still be higher than Manti non-resident charges. If so, “that’s an issue,” she said.

Barton said no, with the price hikes, Manti would not be a cheaper option than, for instance, Springville or Orem.

He added that if the pace of burials continues to pick up, Manti might get to the point American Fork, Sandy, Logan and Riverton have reached. All of those cities do not permit non-resident lot purchases in their cemeteries.

In other discussion related to the cemetery, the city council approved a new fee of $1,000 for “oversized” monuments. The maximum size permitted before fee kicks in had not been determined at the time of the vote. Barton said he would bring size specifications to the council for approval during May.

For the past several years, the city staff has been bringing requests for what it judged to be oversized monuments to the council for approval, Barton said.

Large monuments are a liability to the city, he added. Sometimes they get damaged, and the family asks the city to pay for the damages, whether or not there is evidence the city caused the damage. Several years ago, a 4-year-old was killed in a cemetery in Park City when a monument fell over on him.

“Due to the extra [staff] time and liability, we propose a $1,000 fee for placing an oversize monument,” Barton told the council.