By Wyatt Goolsby
It came down to a tie-breaking vote in the Ector County Commissioners Court. But after it was all over, the court approved an increase to burial costs. And many officials said they're ready to move forward with that decision.
"We would like to keep the prices lower, but as I say in order to keep the cemetery looking nice, and to acquire more land, we had to increase the prices, it was really a tough decision, but economically we had to do this to continue," explained Commissioner Freddie Gardner.
Gardner said the decision by the Commissioner Court to increase burial costs still provides reasonable fees for its citizens. Here are some of the new rates which will take effect this Saturday:
Grave Space Cost:
$750 up from $500
Opening and Closing Fees before 2 pm:
$750 up from $500
Saturday Burial Before 2 pm:
$1000 up from $650
And the prices just get higher for burials after 2 pm.
Father Mark Miller, the parochial vicar at St. Joseph's and St. Anthony's Catholic Churches, said increased fees are not good for many in South Odessa. They just don't have the money. And he's brought that up with Commissioners.
"So we tried to impress upon them that people have a right to be buried, but at the same time, it has to be affordable, and people should not have to have car washes and bake sales and other kinds of fundraisers in order to bury their loved ones, when it comes to that time," said Miller.
Miller also mentioned it is a public cemetery, and the county's fees should reflect the fact that some of its citizens are in a lower income level.
"But we have to look at the rest of the taxpayers in Ector County. We can't get into the mode of subsidizing the lots, because we're responsible for all the taxpayers of Ector County. But we want to do as good a job, and as nominal a fee as possible," said Gardner.