Cemetery survey nixed
June 1, 2012
Instead of paying around $25,000 to conduct a survey asking residents if they want a cemetery district in the Snyderville Basin, the Summit County Council decided to simply place the question on the November ballot.
At a public hearing last week regarding the creation of a cemetery district, only three residents spoke, offering the Council split opinions on higher taxes and the desirability of being buried in the community. Following the public hearing, council members decided to do a survey of residents before placing the cemetery district on the ballot, but changed their minds on Wednesday.
Council member Sally Elliott said that placing whether or not to form a Basin cemetery district on the ballot would be much easier and cheaper than doing a survey.
"If we bring location, purchase price and other things into the mix, people will get confused," Elliott said. "We don’t even know the specifics yet so how can we ask other people about them. Everyone will have plenty of opportunity to tell us what they think if we place it on the ballot. Then in a year or so, we can ask people if they want to raise taxes to actually build a cemetery."
A district must be created by voters before the Council can appoint a cemetery board to choose a location and decide how much a cemetery would cost residents over time. The decision to raise property taxes to build a cemetery would then be placed on a later ballot for voters in the Basin to decide.
County Manager Bob Jasper said one of the key decisions in creating the cemetery is deciding where it should be placed, on a piece of land the county already owns or on a purchased parcel. The Council has discussed placing the cemetery on the PRI open space below the Utah Olympic Park.
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Council member Claudia McMullin said her main concern is making sure people didn’t just want a cemetery, but would be willing to pay for a cemetery.
"Will people mind if they are taxed even if they do not plan on using it," McMullin. "It is not just a simple question of do you want a cemetery, it’s how much do you want a cemetery when it means possibly raising taxes."
Council member Chris Robinson agreed with McMullin, but said the Council will have to clearly say on November’s ballot that the creation of a cemetery district does not mean higher taxes, it simply means the Council can move forward with exploring the options.
"We are setting artificial deadlines for ourselves to get too much done when we don’t even know if people want this," Robinson said. "Once we put the basics on the ballot and they are voted on, we can then invest the time into finding a proper location for the cemetery and then possibly put the tax levy on next year’s ballot."
The council also decided to begin conducting some tests at different locations at the PRI open space to see if the soil and features of the land would accommodate a cemetery.