City raises rates for cemetery plots

EVART — Forest Hill Cemetery fees will increase after a unanimous vote of approval by the Evart City Council at Monday's meeting.

For years the city has not collected enough revenue to support the cemetery's expenditures, which are about five times more than collected funds from families of the deceased, said council member Dan Elliot.

Now, grave and burial costs will be $350 per lot for a single resident and $550 per lot for a single non-resident on weekdays. On weekends, the cost increases by $100 and there is a $100 fee per grave for the plot's perpetual care.

With the council's approval on the proposal, basic regulations include a flat rate of 55 cents per square inch of surface area and all lots required to be paid in full at the time of purchase. To be considered a resident of Evart, the individual must have been a resident of the city at the time of death.

The new rate will help balance city costs and begin to provide a future opportunity to purchase additional cemetery land when needed, Elliot said.

In more agenda business, brush and yard pickup was discussed among council members looking for a solution to better assist the Department of Public Works and the city residents with monthly pickup opportunities.

Residents who attended the meeting voiced their concerns with current pickup times and methods as well as potential changes. A community letter drafted by Evart City Manager Zack Szakacs informed residents of requests and rules for citizens to receive quick and easy pickup.

The letter stated the department will no longer pick up grass or leaves if not packed in biodegradable bags, and brush piles need to be neatly stacked and facing the roadway. Residents who place leaves in the road could face a $50 fine as well as a $50 per hour charge for the city to remove the leaves. The city's north side will be picked up during the first week of the month, while the south will be picked up during the last week of the month.

Vallad addressed the citizens in attendance and the council, saying residents always can call the department when their yard waste is bagged, no matter the time of the month, and an employee will retrieve the bags. Communication between the DPW and residents is key to keeping the streets and drains clear of debris.

Evart Mayor Eric Schmidt proposed an idea for DPW to perform two two-week sessions of free pickup, with one session in the fall and one in the spring. Vallad agreed to the task, adding he will determine the fall dates soon.

Council members approved the drafted letter and Schmidt's proposal for free pickup, with council member BJ Foster opposed.

In other business, council members approved the DDA purchase of the former Corner Cupboard, located at 6th and Main streets. The lot was lost to back taxes and the city sold it to the DDA in hopes a new business can take advantage of the property.