Cost of dying increases by 10%

A 10% rise in the cost of dying would cost the deceased, but have lesser effect on living ratepayers, the Dunedin City Council heard yesterday.

As part of the annual plan budget for 2012-13, fees were raised across five death-related activities.

Burial rights have increased in the pre-draft budget from $1688 to $1857, interments from $1252 to $1377 and service fees, exhumation and crematorium fees have all increased by nearly 10%.

Cr Richard Thomson questioned what he said was "a 10% increase in the cost of dying", and Cr Colin Weatherall suggested it was "too expensive now".

But community and recreation services manager Mick Reece said attempts were made to keep the figure low "for obvious reasons".

The usual balance for the area was 60% user pays, and 40% ratepayer funded for the final activity of Dunedin residents.

Staff were trying to keep rates increases as low as possible, he said.

"The 10% is arbitrary, but it is an attempt to reduce the impact on rates."

In response to a query by Cr Jinty MacTavish on "eco-burials", which have been called for in recent years, Mr Reece said the council intended to provide land at the Green Park cemetery, then look at other options the council could offer.

Natural burials involve placing bodies in shallow graves - in caskets of untreated wood - where plots had nutrient-rich soils, trees and plantings to encourage natural decomposition.

Mr Reece said government legislation was changing on the issue and the council was monitoring that.


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