By Jen Kastner
ECTOR COUNTY- Burying a loved one is hard on your emotions but also on your wallet. The plot, casket and hearse can really add up. The national average for a funeral is almost $8,000.
It's why locals are drawn to Ector County Cemetery. That's Odessa's only public graveyard. Director Martha Fierro says, "We have a price that has been set by the court and our price is much lower than anybody in the surrounding Permian Basin."
A plot there goes for about $850.00. The private cemeteries in town charge two to three times as much.
Ector County Cemetery says the high demand for plots and lack of space has forced them to hike up prices, but not for everyone. It's just for non-residents. The cost will be an additional $500.00 on top of the flat plot fee, making a plot a total of $1,350.00. They say they need the extra money to help them expand.
Fierro says, "There's a cost to everything, like to a new improvements of the cemetery. We have to have irrigation. We have to have roads in there."
They say several Midlanders are walking through their doors. "If they cannot afford to bury a loved one in Midland, then we are getting some of the people from Midland County coming over here to bury their loved ones," Fierro said.
Midland's former public cemetery, Fairview, no longer has plots for purchase. That ended back in 2003 when they ran out of space. Fairview's remaining burial sites now go straight to indigents, veterans and families of veterans.
With the influx of outsiders and demand for cheaper plots, Ector County Cemetery says the price hike is necessary.
"Ector County residents are the ones that pay for all those new additions to the gardens and this is another way for us to be able to collect from somebody that's not an Ector County resident," Fierro said.
The commissioner's court approved the fee this week. They say it'll go into effect once the details are hammered out.
When NewsWest 9 talked to the cemetery director at Fairview in Midland, we were told they'd never heard of Midlanders going to Ector County Cemetery looking for a cheaper plot. Fairview says there are currently no plans in place to try an open a public cemetery in Midland.