MORONI—The Moroni City Council has agreed to give a special $200 payment to public works employees when they close a grave at the cemetery on a Saturday or holiday.
“These guys have to come in on a Saturday or holiday, and if they know there’s a burial, they can’t go out of town,” Mayor Paul Bailey told the council at a meeting in mid-August. “That closing may be at 1 p.m. or 4 p.m.”
Comp time maxed out
Up to now, the city has simply offered comp time, the mayor said. But Brennan Russell, who took over as public works director earlier this year, is starting to max out his allowable amount of comp time, the mayor said.
Russell said that the time from the start of a burial service to when the family leaves the cemetery and the employee completes the burial, can be up to three hours.
“Rather than comp time, you would just give them that fee,” Councilwoman Jennifer Lamb said.
“That’s what I’m proposing,” Bailey said. “…I’m just trying to come up with a solution to keep happy employees.”
Councilman Bevan Wulfenstein asked how frequently the city has late afternoon or weekend burials. Russell said 3-5 times per month.
“A lot of times, somebody dies in your family, and they’re coming from California,” Bailey said. “It’s hard to inconvenience the family who’s trying to bury a loved one because we don’t want to work after 3.”
People from Provo or Salt Lake
“The problem is you get people coming down from Provo or Salt Lake. They’re having the funeral there,” but the family burial plot is in Moroni, City Recorder Carol Haskins said. “The procession comes down, and they’re not here until 3 or 4.”
“This last Saturday, we had a burial at 4:30 (p.m.). They wanted to do it at 5:30, and I said, ‘That’s too late on a Saturday.’”
The bonus-pay proposal triggered a discus- sion of administering a fair cemetery fee schedule as well as how to compensate employees for overtime.
Presently, the base charge for a weekday burial is $500. If the burial is on Saturday or a holiday,
there is an additional $100 charge, or a total charge of $600. If the burial is after 3 p.m. on any day, there is an extra $100 charge, making the total charge $600 on weekdays and $700 on Saturdays and holidays.
Public works employees come in early in the morning on weekdays and try to clock out by 3:30 p.m., Haskins said. “If they’re having a funeral after 3 p.m., they’re here until 5 or 6.”
In approving the weekend and holiday bonus, the council didn’t address how to handle weekday overtime other than the present method, which is to award comp time.
Under the bonus plan that was approved, if a weekend or holiday burial occurs before 3 p.m., the city collects an addi- tional $100. But if the city pays a public works employee $200, it is withdrawing funds from standard $500 fee designed to cover basic cemetery costs.
“Maybe we should raise it (the fee for any weekend or holiday burial) to $200, instead of $100, so the city isn’t losing money,” Councilman Brad Aldridge said. With that increase, “I’m all for giving extra money” to the public works employee, he said.
Another dilemma is that a burial service may be scheduled at 2:30 p.m. If it’s a weekday, there is no charge beyond the $500 base fee. On a weekend, the family may pay $100 because it’s a Saturday but not pay the additional $100, or $200 total, for a late-afternoon burial.
In either case, the service may not be over, and the family may not leave the cemetery until 3:30 p.m., Haskin said, so the public works employee can’t start closing the grave until well after 3.
The council agreed to put the issues, including a fee increase for all weekend burials, on the agenda for the next council meeting.