25 percent of burial fee goes to cemetery upkeep - WNEM TV 5

25 percent of burial fee goes to cemetery upkeep

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Overgrown grass and weeds are leaving family members appalled at conditions at local cemeteries, especially when they said they've paid for the sites to be maintained.

On Tuesday, TV5 learned not all the money people pay for perpetual care can be used for daily upkeep.

"It's just very frustrating when we've already paid for perpetual care service and they do nothing," Mac Osburn said.

He's extremely upset about overgrown grass and weeds at Oakwood Cemetery. His mother and other family members were buried there.

The property is located in Saginaw Township but is owned by the city.

Osburn said when he bought the burial plot for his mother, the cemetery told him part of that money goes toward upkeep.

"When you buy a lot, that's part of it. It's called perpetual care, and they are supposed to be doing this stuff and they don't," Osburn said.

Public Services Director Phil Karwat broke down where the money goes when someone pays $800 for a burial plot.

"Twenty-five percent of that $800 goes toward the annual operating of that cemetery, but the other 75 percent goes into a trust fund that sits there and accumulates, and we're only allowed to utilize the interest earned on that fund, which is about $5,000 to $10,000 per year," Karwat said.

He said he's requested more funding from the city's general fund each year for the city's three cemeteries.

Karwat said his department is coordinating with Tri-Cap, a community corrections program, and they're making plans to get more workers for the cemeteries this summer.

"The commitment is they are going to give us workers, six or seven of them, about three days a week, and the city is also gearing up to purchase some equipment," Karwat said.

City officials said they can only afford to hire three permanent workers for all the cemeteries. They are mostly responsible for burial services and not upkeep.

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