Helper city plans to review burial plot prices, fees at council meeting
Examples of varying local burial fees
Helper - Mountain View Cemetery
Resident fees Monday through Friday $175
Resident fees Saturday/holidays $200
Non-resident fees Monday through Friday $245
Non-resident fees Saturday/holidays $250
Price City Cemetery
Resident fees Monday through Friday $200
Resident fees Saturday/holidays $400
Non-resident fees Monday through Friday $250
Non-resident fees Saturday/holidays $500
Sunnyside - Valley View Cemetery
Resident fees Monday through Friday $180
Resident fees Saturday/holidays $275
Non-resident fees Monday through Friday $210
Non-resident fees Saturday/holidays $350
Wellington City Cemetery
Resident fees Monday through Friday $125
Resident fees Saturday/holidays $150
Non-resident fees Monday through Friday $125
Non-resident fees Saturday/holidays $150
One of the hottest commodities in Helper these days is a spot for that final resting place.
The city's fees for cemetery plots and burial costs have not been raised in so long that, apparently, people are bringing loved ones from out-of-state back to Helper to be buried, councilmembers noted at the April 3 public meeting.
"People are coming and buying us out," said Mayor Mike Dalpiaz. "People are coming in and buying nine to 10 plots at a time."
Tonight, the council will review and possibly adopt an ordinance to raise fees for burials.
The discussion touched not only on the need to adjust fees but just how to determine if someone is eligible to be charged a resident versus a non-resident fee.
"If someone was born here and lived here when they were young, but moved away 50 years ago are they still a resident?" asked Dalpiaz.
The issue of determining who actually qualifies as a Helper resident raised several challenges.
"How do we police resident versus non-resident fees?" the mayor said.
Suggestions from councilmembers included whether the person owned a home in town and the production of documents to prove the Helper connection.
However, the city's public works director explained that requiring the types of documents in question might be problematic.
"We have people who can't even find deeds to their cemetery plots," said Orlando Ochoa.
Helper is not the only city in the county whose burial fees seem to be lagging behind the cost of operations.
"People wouldn't think of this but the rising cost of fuel is really impacting us," said Alicia Willson, clerk/treasurer of the city of Wellington.
After hearing about Helper's discussions, Willson noted that her town hasn't raised their cemetery fees for a long time as well.
In fact Wellington's costs fell below three other area cemeteries, including Helper's.
Charges for resident burials range from $125 in Wellington to $200 in Price.
Fuel is not the only cost imbalance vexing the cities.
Overtime for weekend burials wear on the budgets as well, according to Willson and the members of the Helper City Council, especially as the warmer weather hits the valley.
Representatives from both cities said that the time families and friends stay around the gravesite seem to get longer the more the sun shines.
"People get the guitars and accordians and can be out there for up to four hours," pointed out Dalpiaz, noting the necessary overtime that must be paid to city employees to accommodate them.
The council reviewed the ordinance for raising fees April 3 and made some written suggestions as they passed it around and handed it off to the Helper City Attorney Gene Strait.
Tonight's agenda also includes:
Discussion and/or approval of a business licenses for Pilates Body at 619 Canyon St. and Nature's Harvest Fruit and Vegetable Stand.
Discussion and/or approval on hiring help for police department and rape crisis.
Discussion and/or approval on Ordinance 2008-2 to create a recreation board.
The Helper City Council meets the first and third Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. in the downtown auditorium.
For more information, residents may call Jona Skerl at 472-5391.