By Gav Ross

DYING isn’t cheap, but local families are about to discover it’s going to cost a lot more to bury their loved ones at council-managed cemeteries in Bass Coast.
Councillors, who represent both the Wonthaggi and San Remo Cemetery Trusts, approved a new fee schedule last week which could see burial costs rise dramatically.
The basic interment (burial) service fee for an adult could more than double over the next 12 months – jumping from $1110 to $2253.
This doesn’t include paying for the patch of lawn where the body will be buried – that’ll be an extra $1112.
Plus, of course, there are other charges such as plaques and headstones, depending on which section (lawn or memorial) families choose.
Interestingly, the Trust has also decided to delete a discounted interment fee for children, which had previously been set at $395.
The fees for deceased children will now be the same as adults.
The figures are similar for San Remo cemetery.
Even the simplest of services – a request for a 15-minute search of cemetery records – has been jacked up from $35 to $75.
As for cremation, those fees haven’t increased so sharply – jumping a modest few hundred dollars only.
One of the reasons for the increases, according to a new report presented to councillors, is that current revenue raised by the Trust “is not covering operational costs let alone the capacity to set aside perpetual maintenance or capital works funding”.
Now, 30 per cent of funds raised will go towards in the kitty or towards site improvements.
Cr Neil Rankine said it was important to increase fees, even though there might be some public backlash.
“They’re going up substantially, which people will consider a bit of an issue,” he said at the meeting.
“But when we’ve looked at some other cemeteries, you pay 10 times the fees at some metropolitan cemeteries (compared) to here.”
Cr Rankine also noted it is more expensive for the council to be the Trust and manage Wonthaggi and San Remo cemeteries because employees and contractors have to be paid.
He argued that if Wonthaggi Cemetery was run by a Community Trust – as is the case with the five other cemeteries throughout Bass Coast – then some work could be undertaken by volunteers.
The Department of Health is required to give final approval of the new fee structure before it is set in stone.

What you’ll pay and where
HOW much can a grieving individual or family to pay for a grave to be dug in Bass Coast/South Gippsland? Here are the current internment (adult) costs at a handful of local cemeteries:

San Remo: $1100 (set to rise to $2392)
Wonthaggi: $1140 (to rise to $2253)
Grantville: $110
Kilcunda: $145
Phillip Island: $850
Inverloch $240
Korumburra: $924
Leongatha: Between $1730 and $2010 (depending on section)
Source: Department of Health. Note: Fees between council and community Trusts differ depending on contractors and administration costs.

What the community wants
SEVENTEEN individuals or groups made submissions when the Wonthaggi Cemetery Master Plan was on exhibition. Here are a few suggestions made by community members:
• Install a bus stop close to the cemetery entrance
• Provide a map of the grounds including Braille markings
• A taxi area close to the site
• A shelter and toilet should be constructed near the car park
• A niche wall should be installed in the old monumental section
• A ‘loop road’ should be constructed first and then other improvements should follow