Cemeteries working to maintain plots
In response to legitimate criticism of local non-parochial cemeteries: All who are responsible are just as upset as those who criticize.
If we had sufficient income, we would hire workers. If spring weather cooperated, the job would get done and the cemeteries would be on schedule by Memorial Day – if, if, if.
Cemeteries survive on interments, sale of plots, donations and foundations for memorials. We receive nothing for the upkeep of the premises of those buried or interned. Ninety percent of Johnstown Cemetery is no longer acknowledged by any survivors.
These cemeteries are tax-exempt civic associations fiducially responsible for money accumulated in trusted accounts. Prior to the economic crash of 2009, our money in trust earned an average 6.5 percent to 7 percent. After the crash, interest income dropped to less than 3 percent.
Not only interest dropped in half, but in a lean economic period, donations fade and burials become cremations. Families put off cemetery interments; they hold the urns or scatter the ashes.
Johnstown Cemetery is 52 acres large and is at the very center of Johnstown. We operate on a very strict budget. Our future need is to be able to provide a beautiful and forever place for those no longer living, but in our care and to assure their memory. We are holding our own in very stressful conditions. We ask for patience and sympathetic approval for all the effort the trustees and administration are enduring.
We welcome criticism and any suggestions from the lot owners and the public. We are doing on half what we had to do with five years ago. We will maintain the fiscal position of Johnstown Cemetery until we earn more and can keep our expenses controlled. I am confident all the other non-parochial cemeteries share our dilemma. For all civic institutions, it is a fight for survival.
Vice president, Johnstown Cemetery