KAYSVILLE -- When Rich Shaw went to bury his father-in-law, the high cost of the interment was a shock.
Don and Colleen Flitton, both 13-year-residents of Kaysville, had bought two side-by-side plots in the Kaysville City Cemetery, Shaw said. Colleen died in 2001 and was buried in one of the plots. Don remarried several years later and moved to Clinton.
When Don died in April, the family obeyed his wishes to be buried next to his first wife. They were shocked that the interment fee was $1,650, rather than the $500 they had been expecting.
Shaw felt that this "extraordinary fee" was unfair and took his concerns to the city council. The city attributed the cost increase to the fact that Don was no longer a Kaysville resident.
In 2007, Kaysville restructured its cemetery ordinance by increasing interment fees for nonresidents and limiting their ability to purchase plots.
"We had to stop the demand for plots, because we were going to run out," Councilman Gil Miller said. "It's also important to note that demand has been significantly affected for the better. It has served its purpose."
The ordinance now states that only residents can buy plots on a pre-need basis. Nonresidents can purchase plots when they are needed. Sales are limited to two per household.
Resident adult interments are $500, while nonresident fees range from $1,650 to $2,650 depending on location. Infant and urn interment fees are slightly lower.
"The higher fee helps protect residents from subsidizing maintenance for nonresidents into perpetuity," Miller said in defense of the fees.
Shaw said Flitton deserved credit for the many years he had been a resident of Kaysville and a taxpayer. He bought the plot when he was a resident and buried his wife there when he was a resident.
Shaw requested a reimbursement of $1,150, which was the difference between what they were charged and the resident fee. He also asked the council to amend the ordinance to award longtime Kaysville citizens residency status when purchasing cemetery plots and services.
While the city council rejected his plea for a reimbursement, they did re-evaluate the ordinance. Cemetery staff feared a "logistical nightmare" if they were asked to track years of residency for people to qualify for the discount.
However, Councilman Brett Garlick expressed concern for residents who inter a spouse when they are both residents, and then move beyond city limits under extenuating circumstances.
Many elderly residents do not have the choice of whether they stay in their homes or not, he said. Health or financial situations often make the decision for them.
"I'm sure that it is always their intention to be buried with their spouse in 99 percent of the cases," said Garlick. "I think it would not be representing our residents well if we didn't allow them that circumstance."
The city council voted unanimously to amend the cemetery ordinance to allow people who own two adjacent plots and the first spouse is buried when they are both residents, to qualify for the resident fee no matter where the surviving spouse lives at the time of his or her death.
The new ordinance took effect Nov. 11.
Council members emphasized that there will be no exceptions for previous circumstances.
Shaw said he was pleased with the results, but wished it had happened more quickly.
"I think it's a great thing for citizens to participate in their local government and to initiate change," Councilman Mark Johnson said.
"I think this makes our cemetery more family-friendly."