LaFayette considers price increase on cemetery plots

Published 11:00 am Thursday, November 18, 2021

On Monday, the LaFayette City Council held a committee meeting focused exclusively on price adjustments for the purchase of burial plots in city cemeteries. The mayor and council decided that $500 for a plot was closer to market value than the current price of $125, although this adjustment is only tentative. It will be discussed again at a future council meeting. The cost will cover the plot as well as the perpetual care of the cemetery. The council also decided tentatively that the transfer or replacement of a cemetery deed should cost $100.

Currently, a grave space at a LaFayette City Cemetery is $50, while perpetual maintenance for the space is $75, according to City Clerk Louis Davidson.

“[People] come here, and they expect to pay more than $125, and when we tell them what the price is, they’re shocked,” Councilmember Michael Ellis said.

The conversation focused largely on Handy Cemetery, where the city bought 3.5 new acres of space. George Green, superintendent of Street, Sanitation, and Cemetery, said the new section could probably hold as many as 2,100 graves. The area has to be surveyed and have about four roads built on it. Green estimated that the land cost around $14,000 and said grading it costed about $5,000. He said he budgeted $16,000 for mapping, surveying, and laying out the land. He estimated that the roads would cost about $30,000.

“For 2,000 lots, that adds up to $65,000 that we’ve come up with so far,” Councilmember T. Shannon Hunter said.

Based on this, Hunter said $100 was a good price for a burial plot and $400 was good for perpetual care.

Green highlighted the difference it would make to charge $500 for a grave instead of $125. He said that in Section 6 of Handy Cemetery, there are about 500 graves, which were sold for $125 each. From this, the city made $62,500. Had they been $500 each, the city would have made $250,000.

Ellis said that not only are graves far more expensive in other cities, but many cities charge non-residents extra money for spaces. He said LaFayette should charge more money for non-residents.

“If you’re not a resident in Opelika, it’s double the cost of whatever you pay for a grave,” he said.

Green asked what should be done if a LaFayette resident purchased a grave for a non-resident. Councilmember Terry Mangram responded that the price should be based on the former residence of the person being buried.