LISBON — A cemetery official believes it may be time for village council to consider subsidizing operations.
“We are no longer a self sustaining operation,” cemetery board chairman Barry James told council at this week’s meeting.
The cemetery’s funding sources are a levy, endowments and money generated from burials. James said there are fewer and fewer traditional burials each year, with more people choosing the cheaper option of cremation and no interment.
Village Fiscal Officer Tracey Wonner reported the cemetery is creeping closer and closer to spending more than it takes in, but it has been that way for years. She said the cemetery’s combined revenue averaged $108,000 for the past three years, and spending in 2019 was $107,000. The cemetery does have a carryover balance of $14,000 it has tried to avoid using.
New Mayor Peter Wilson agreed it may be time for council to begin having those discussions.
“I think it’s time to start helping fund the cemetery,” he said, and suggested the council finance committee begin looking into the feasibility. “Barry is right. We are running out of money. There are less and less (traditional) funerals.”
Wonner said they may have to first look into the legality of doing so because as a separate department she does not believe the cemetery is currently entitled to general fund money.
In related news, council voted to let the county fair board use the undeveloped portion of the cemetery for launching fireworks on the last day of this year’s county fair to mark the 175th anniversary of the event.
Elmer Zimmerman from the fair board said the fireworks operator determined the best location to operate from is the undeveloped/open field section of the cemetery.
“We don’t see a problem with that as long” as the fireworks residue does not land on the graves, James said. He was also concerned the animals at the fairgrounds and the dogs at the nearby Lisbon Veterinarian Clinic may be riled up by the pyrotechnics.
Zimmerman said they checked with the veterinarian clinic and they are fine with fireworks being launched from the cemetery, and most of the animals are gone from the fairgrounds by the evening of the last day.
As for the cemetery grounds, Zimmerman said they will make the fireworks operator aware of their concerns, and fairgrounds volunteers will walk through the cemetery afterwards to look for any fireworks debris.
Council voted to keep the white light decorations in the town square up all year-round after taking the previous two weeks to determine whether they liked what they saw. The volunteers who decorate the square for Christmas were taking down decorations when they decided to leave the white lights up to see how they looked and whether council would approve.
“I think it looks great … I think it’s tasteful,” said council member Ryan Berg.
Street supervisor Jim Oliver asked the volunteers to consider installing some more electrical outlets to eliminate the extension cords from being run across the grass because that will be a problem during mowing season.