Welsh Raising Cost of Burials

WELSH, LA (AP) — The Board of Aldermen has approved an 80 percent increase for burial plots and expenses at the Oaklawn, Oaklawn Addition and Eastridge cemeteries.

         Alderman Allen Ardoin voted against the increase, saying it wasn't fair to people who've lived in Welsh all their lives.

         Under the measure, the cost of burial plots at the town's cemeteries would rise from $250 to $450. Recording fees paid to the clerk of court's office would increase from $40 to $50 beginning Jan. 1.

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         A $20 permit fee would also be assessed to funeral homes and contractors.

         "The increase would be for improvements and expansion of the cemeteries," Alderman Charles Drake said.

         The town is working on plans to expand Oaklawn Cemetery because no more plots are available in the original section.

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         About 65 plots remain in the south section of the Oaklawn Addition. The town is developing the center section, which will have about 1,200 plots. A north section envisioned for future development will have about 1,360 plots.

         Eastridge Cemetery has about 315 burial plots available.

         Drake said the cost of maintaining the cemeteries has increased over the years while the cost of burial plots has remained the same. The cost of burial plots hasn't increased since 2008.

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         "We can't keep the same fees because we are robbing Peter to pay Paul," Drake said.

         The burial plots in Welsh are still cheaper than those of most cemeteries, he said.

         The increased prices will help the town break even on the cost to maintain the cemeteries, Drake said. "We need to go up," he said. "We can't keep up. At this rate we're (operating) in the hole."

         Ardoin said he had no problem increasing the burial fees, but argued that someone who lives outside of Welsh should pay more for a burial plot than someone who lives in town.

         "I think somebody coming in from New Orleans should pay a little extra because it's a slap in the face to people who live here and spend their money here," Ardoin said.

         Drake said it would be a nightmare of paperwork because some former residents have moved away, but want to return home for burial.

         Town attorney Rick Arceneaux said that setting two different prices for those who live in Welsh and those who reside outside of the town limits would be wrongful discrimination.

         Residents will have until Jan. 1 to get the burial plots at the current $250 rate, Drake said.

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