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#397690 - 01/19/11 03:44 PM Undertakers Complain About New Cemetery Fees
Marty Offline
Lord's Ridge Cemetery served the city from 1886 but it's time is past…and After one year of works, today the first body was laid to rest at the City's new cemetery at mile 13 on the Western Highway. Well that was not the only thing going on this evening. While the funeral was taking place - funeral directors were gathering - getting ready to brief the media on the newly proposed prices for grave spaces - that was presented to them by the Belize City Council. According to these undertakers, these prices are downright - ridiculous.

David Coye, Undertaker
"The proposed prices, like say the ground space $75 and up ,here (it's) $250. We open a grave space that is what is important now. At Lord Ridge Cemetery if you own a space there and you want to use that space again you have to pay City Council $500.00 just to get permission to use that space that you own. The fee for a ground space to use again is $50.00. If it is a tomb space for you to reopen that tomb, you used to pay the City Council $100.00. Now it's 400% more which is $500.00 to get the permission to use that space at Lord Ridge, so who so ever have space at Lord Ridge prepare yourself to pay $500.00 for you to use your own space. $400.00 more than the old price."

Wayne Usher, Belize City Councillor
"We cannot charge any fee now other than what we are charging because the law hasn't been passed yet. Whatever fee is there on the books are fees that we are proposing to be charged, let's understand that from the onset. The fees remain the same right now, but let us be factual, how can we conceive of charging this same $75.00 and $150.00 to come 13 more miles out of town? How can we charge the same? It just doesn't make any sense. They have to transport the materials, the sand, the gravel, the cement, the steel; we have to transport our workers so naturally by coming out of town the price will have to go up somehow."

From what we understand - the newly proposed price for an open grave space which was only 75 dollars at the Lord Ridge Cemetery is now two hundred and fifty dollars. The proposed price to reopen a grave - which was 50 to a 100 dollars is 500 dollars. And the proposed price for a baby space which was 30 dollars at the Lord Ridge Cemetery is now a hundred dollars. The undertakers held their press conference a bit late in the evening, and we'll have much more on this story in our newscast tomorrow.

Channel 7


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#397853 - 01/20/11 03:41 PM Re: Undertakers Complain About New Cemetery Fees [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Fuming Funeral Directors

Last night we told you about the dispute between the city's funeral directors and city hall over the proposed rates at the new cemetery at mile 13 on the western highway.

To give you some background, the proposed new rates are as follows: for an adult space, what used to cost $75.00 dollars at Lord Ridge, will now cost two hundred and fifty dollars; for a completed vault that used to cost $1,075.00 at Lord Ridge, will now cost $1,000.00 for just the space.

Those are the issues that the funeral Directors called us to the new cemetery to complain about yesterday - when we stumbled unto a bit of history mingled with a lot of controversy. Here's more:…..

Wayne Usher, Belize City Councillor
"I am ecstatic that we have put down our first body in this new cemetery today because it has taken me and this council one year to do so I am elated that we have done this. Today all of us here including you are a part of history."

The family of Charles Moss buried their loved one in the new cemetery yesterday

Wayne Usher, Belize City Councillor
"I want to thank the Moss family publicly; I want to thank them for allowing their love one to be the first to be buried in this new cemetery. We are happy that this family who have made history with us have agreed to work and cooperate with us, they understand exactly what I just said to you. That family understood what I said and they did not mind to pay that little additional fee to come here."

But the Funeral director who made the arrangements says the family did not, in fact, agree to pay any new fee because they could not.

David Coye, Funeral Director
"I had to purchase a grave space and pay $250.00 for something that has not passed into law yet. At the old cemetery it is $75.00. When I went there I have to come up here, the people could meet the $250.00, I had to pay the rest."

Monica Bodden
"But the councilor just made mention to me in an interview just minutes ago that the family agreed on paying that $250.00."

David Coye, Funeral Director
"The councilor has two faces and it is which one of the face speaking. Today I guess it's the two face one, the family had nothing at all to do with this payment and the grave space. Everything was contracted right to me by phone from Belmopan so what he is saying is a lie."

Strong talk - and that's the way it's been going for months ever since the council proposed new rates for the new cemetery:

Wayne Usher, Belize City Councillor
"How can we conceive of charging this same $75.00 and $150.00 to come 13 more miles out of town? How can we charge the same? It just doesn't make any sense. They have to transport the materials, the sand, the gravel, the cement, the steel; we have to transport our workers so naturally by coming out of town the price will have to go up somehow."

David Coye, Funeral Director
"We have no objection of the cost being more than Lord Ridge. I am totally right for that. At Lord Ridge the grave space - they should have been more but due to politics they keep it that way, but here it is too much, I think if they sit down with us, we could work out something because we know what people go through, they don't know. Politicians come and go."

And according to these funeral directors, people just can't pay more:

Luis Belisle funeral director
"Because as it is right now, people have problem to find that money to bury their love ones. We have to try curve and meet them in order to get things done most feasible way."

Kurk Dennison, Funeral Director Dennison Undertaking
"I am looking out for the poorer class of people who need help; I have people that come to me to deal with their funeral because they can't come up with the money. The fees that they are coming up with now people can't find money to deal with their dead."

Wayne Usher, Belize City Councillor
"Some people are saying it's too high. I can out it to you that in the economic situation we are in right now in Belize any raise of any price for anything is too high isn't it? So we have to be reasonable man, we have to strike a balance between what the council is paying right now to subsidize each grave and how much we can strain even more the Belizean pockets to pay more. So we have to strike a balance but we cannot charge the same for Lord Ridge for 13 miles up the road man, it just doesn't make economic sense."

The two sides are at loggerheads - and these funeral directors say it is the family of the dead who will suffer:

Kurk Dennison, Funeral Director Dennison Undertaking
"Because then if they put their price and the people can't meet that price, what will happen to them? the dead will be left right at the morgue and things will get out of hand then."

Wayne Usher, Belize City Councillor
"These are the propose rates and we will ask the family to pay those rates. If they choose not to pay those rates, we still have to bury the dead; we still have to do that. We cannot and will not turn back anyone from burial, if they could only afford $150.00, we would have had to subsidize everything else."

But handling death is not an institutional matter, it is a delicate personal, family matter and the politicians say they are mindful of that.

Wayne Usher, Belize City Councillor
"As a politician we have to listen to feedback from the public and if we see that it will be hard for the public maybe then we should go back to the drawing board but as we are talking right now i see it as reasonable."

David Coye, Funeral Director
"The biggest concern is the way how they are doing things especially the way how Wayne Usher doing things, like this is his cemetery, this is not the council or a team. It seems that he is just doing things on his own. What I would like, I would like the councilors to meet with us so we could work out things so we can know what people are feeling out here. We know what people are feeling when they come to us."

And the Directors also feel a way because the council had originally proposed to take up the construction of graves and tombs:

Wayne Usher, Belize City Councillor
"I would left for the council to be in charge of everything you know why? If we are in charge of everything here, we can maintain our standards, we can regulate things and we can have better control of what takes place, if we take in over now at the council, we would make sure that we have enough steel, the integrity of the grave and the tomb would be strong to our standards which will be international standards."

David Coye, Funeral Director
"They are trying to box us out and turn the city council into a contractor council. What does he know about building tomb and steel and those things? But I sure that I have clients that would definite don't want city council people to build anything for them that's for sure."

Wayne Usher, Belize City Councillor
"But as good politicians as we are in the UDP, the cabinet has since got to go with that and they will ask the solicitor general to amend what we propose to allow anyone of us here to build our own graves and our own tombs. So that is a change and that is a change in favor of the undertakers."

But the undertakers are still not happy - and the situation is still unresolved:

Luis Belisle funeral director
"They are ridiculously inconsiderate, how can you deal with people so. Remember we are a poor nation, people in Belize. And with the financial crisis right now it's hard to come across that money."

David Coye, Funeral Director
"$1,000.00 for a space up here. That 566% more, he is crazy."

Controversy aside the new cemetery will be officially opened on Friday morning….

Channel 7


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