BAKER — The Board of Commissioners of the city-owned Hillcrest Memorial Gardens Cemetery on Tuesday night authorized Mayor Harold Rideau to sell scrap bronze from the cemetery, located on Groom Road.
The scrap bronze consists of defective vases and memorials that cannot be used, city cemeterian Donna Allen told the board.
Members of the Baker City Council serve as cemetery board members. Councilman Robert Young was absent from the meeting.
Louisiana Scrap Metal in Port Allen has agreed to buy the approximately 1,000 pounds of bronze but requires a signed letter from the mayor authorizing the sale. The high-quality bronze should bring in $1.40 per pound, Allen said.
The proceeds will be used for beautification of the cemetery, including planting trees and making improvements to the mausoleum.
Other improvements are already being made to the cemetery. Officials have ordered 48 pieces of granite to replace parts of the old mausoleum at a cost of $8,600, Allen said. The city Public Works Department plans to replace the sidewalk leading to the mausoleum by the end of the summer.
Officials also surveyed 72 lots that are just 4 feet by 4 feet for a planned baby garden. Allen proposed using the small lots instead for a cremation garden, because cremation is becoming more popular. Children and babies are usually buried close to adults rather than in separate spaces, at the request of families, so it is unlikely lots in a baby garden would be used, she said.
Based on a price survey she conducted, the price of lots could be raised from $1,800 to $2,000, and burial at Hillcrest would still cost less than other area cemeteries, Allen said.
To increase sales, Allen proposed offering package deals for people who purchase a lot, interment, vault and a marker all at the same time. The package would cost $6,100, while each part bought separately would total $6,425. Mausoleum prices would remain the same.
She also suggested giving free financing to families who order their arrangements pre-need and making a sign to that effect to display at the cemetery. Furthermore, she said, the city can begin ordering bronze monuments as soon as people make their pre-needs arrangements. The company that makes the monuments will store them at no charge until they are needed, a service the city didn’t realize it offered, she said.
Previously, the city would lose money because the price of bronze often increased before the city ordered the monuments for clients who had paid pre-need, Rideau said.
Last year, the cemetery just broke even, and this year, it is $80,000 ahead so far, he said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Louisiana Scrap Metal in Port Allen has agreed to buy 1,000 tons of bronze. In fact, that should be 1,000 pounds, not tons. The Advocate regrets the error.