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Plan to substantially raise city cemetery plot prices attracts vocal opposition

Bardstown resident Shonna Sheckles asked the Bardstown City Council to reconsider its plans to substantially hike the price for city cemetery plots at Tuesday’s council meeting.

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019 — The Bardstown City Council inadvertently dug up controversy when it announced earlier this month its intent to raise the price of plots in the city cemetery.

Bardstown Mayor Dick Heaton said the cemetery price increases were necessary to prevent it operation from costing the city more than it receives in plot income.

Based on a recommendation from the city’s cemetery committee, on Jan. 8 the council held first reading on an ordinance that significantly hiked the prices on cemetery plots.

For cemetery plots in the front half of the cemetery, the price for city residents would increase from $500 to $950; for plots elsewhere, the price for city residents would increase from $450 to $850.

County residents outside the city limits would pay $1,200 per plot; out-of-county residents would pay $1,500 per plot.

But Bardstown resident Shonna Sheckles asked the council to delay its planned second reading of the ordinance to hike the prices due to issues she had with the possible impact of the higher prices.

For people who were born here and live outside the community — particularly those who pursue a career in the military, but want to be buried in their hometown, she called the price hike “a smack in the face to someone who served their country and have to pay $1,500.”

Rather than a sudden hike in cemetery plot prices, Sheckles suggested a gradual increase in the prices over the next several years.

She cited examples of other cemeteries in the area who have prices lower than the city’s planned increase.

“I request that you all go back to the table to discuss this more, and if we have to have an increase, OK — but not at this time, and preferably, a gradual increase,” she said.

Mayor Dick Heaton explained that the city cemetery’s financial challenges make the increase necessary at this time.

The operation of the cemetery has lost $20,000 the past two fiscal years, he explained. The price increase for plots — as well as other services in the cemetery — will generate sufficient revenue so the cemetery can avoid losing money.

Councilman Joe Buckman and Councilwoman Betty Hart chat prior to the start of Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

Heaton explained that the city is responsible for the perpetual care of the cemetery. Its operation has been largely funded by the sales of plots, and when the cemetery is full, there will be no more revenue to help cover its upkeep.

Twenty percent of each plot sale is set aside in a trust fund for the perpetual maintenance of the cemetery, Heaton explained. That trust fund has $174,000 in it now, and the increased prices will help build up that fund.

Heaton said that in the case of a veteran from Bardstown who wished to be buried here, the cemetery sexton has the latitude to address those issues when they come up.

The council voted unanimously to give final approval to the cemetery price increases.

SEWER REQUEST. The council approved a request for sewer service from the Tom Ballard Co. to serve the old Ballard home place on US150E, Springfield Road, behind Walmart.

The Ballard company is converting the home to office space, and the 8-inch sewer extension will tie in with the new Rowan Creek trunk sewer main that is currently being designed. There will also be taps for possible future development of the property.

HRB RECOMMENDATIONS. The council also approved the following recommendations it received from the Historic Review Board regarding changes to properties in the city’s historic district.

COA-18-158. Don Parrish, applicant, St. Vincent de Paul, owner. Approved a request to install doors at St. Vincent De Paul, 310 North Second St.

COA-18-186. Rev. Terry Bradshaw, applicant, Archbishop of Louisville, owner. Approval to install a fence at 310 West Stephen Foster
Ave.

COA-19-01. WesBanco, applicants/owner. Approval to install ADA doors at the rear of the bank branch at 315 North Third St.

COA-19-02. Conceptual Review, Bardstown for the Arts, applicants, Nelson County Government, owners. Reviewed a request to place a sign at the building located at 90 Court Square.

Councilman Bill Sheckles consults with Mayor Dick Heaton prior to the start of Tuesday’s council meeting.

COA-18-95 Amended. Jacob and Katie Hall, applicants/owners. Approval to install the proposed windows with conditions.

In other business, the council:

— vote to reject the low bid submitted for the city’s 4KV conversion project. The lowest bid of $1.4 million was over the project’s $1 million budget. City Electrical Engineer said the city will proceed to seek pricing on an hourly basis, and also do some of the work in can using in-house employees.

— approved the city’s Fiscal Year 2018 audit completed by Peercy and Gray CPAs

— Eric Richter, the city’s electrical engineer, reported to the council plans to upgrade its backup generator so it can handle all the needs of City Hall. The cable TV headend equipment generates a lot of heat and if the cooling is not maintained it can malfunction.

Richter said the current 125 kw diesel generator will be replaced with one of at least 300 kw in size. A supplier has a 400 kw generator available at a competitive price..

— the council approved updates to its classification and compensation plan that changes job titles for some city employees.
— the council also made corrections to its municipal order on council committees.

NEXT UP. The council’s next meeting is its working session, 5 p.m. Feb. 5, 2019.

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