Cost could bury you
THE cost of living is on the rise and now the cost of dying is following suit.
Those hoping to be buried in one of the three cemeteries in the Auckland isthmus area will be hit with a 25 percent hike in cemetery fees.
The Auckland City Council’s arts, culture and recreation committee voted last Wednesday in favour of the increase to be brought in over the 2009/2010 financial year.
The three isthmus council cemeteries open for burials are Hillsborough, Waikaraka and Otahuhu.
Buying an adult-sized plot costs $1027, with another $507 in digging fees.
With the increase, the total cost will go up to about $1917.
There are also other costs for families to take into account when burying loved ones.
Being buried on a Saturday can already add between $195 and $377, a public holiday burial costs $377 extra and reopening occupied plots costs $130.
Those fees will all go up for isthmus cemeteries.
The increase for plot fees and interment will also apply to Waiheke Island cemeteries, but fees will remain the same on Great Barrier Island.
Councillor Cathy Casey told the meeting she was concerned the increase is to be applied to all the cemeteries, when some were “five star” and some were “one star”.
She moved an amendment for a 2.6 percent price increase.
“A 25 percent increase in the first year is outrageous in the current climate. When someone dies it’s a huge expense,” she said.
She also wanted the council to spend $100,000 restoring the Symonds St cemetery, which is closed for burials, but the amendment was lost.
Councillor Richard Northey said the reputation of the council would be severely affected by approving the increase.
“If rates increases of 25 percent are not appropriate, it’s even less appropriate to put an increase on grieving families.”
But Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand president Neil Little, who is also the managing director of Davis Funeral Services in Mt Eden, says he doesn’t believe the increase will put much extra pressure on families.
“Auckland city cemeteries are probably by far the cheapest and still will be.”
He says a funeral without burial fees can cost about $7000 to $8000 and burial is a far more expensive option than cremation.
Mr Little says funerals involve more organisation than they used to when he started in the business 20 years ago and the majority are paid for from the deceased person’s estate.
The council’s cemetery fees will remain cheaper than those of the North Shore City Council, which charges $2200 for an adult plot, and Waitakere City Council, which charges $1950.