Fiscal burdens present new challenges for area cemeteries

By Matthew White

Sun Staff Writer

OXFORD – There is a new challenge unique to cemeteries that operate as nonprofits. In the past, cemeteries have had a particular way of turning a profit to cover monthly expenses as the sale of plots and rate of interment remains a variable that ebbs and flows.

Specifically, the nonprofits made ends meet through market investments and certificates of deposit, where interest on principal served as a primary source of income for operating expenses.

But times – and the economy – have changed, creating a void where ample funds were once plentiful.

“The thing that's really hitting us hardest is that the return on our investments have lagged in recent years due primarily to the economy,” said Steve Behe, Chair of the Riverview Cemetery Association in Oxford.

That lack of return on investment coupled with state law that dictates that cemeteries can only utilize interest earned from their permanent maintenance fund (PMF) investments to pay for operations is taxing the cash flow needed to maintain and operate on a daily basis. “We're not allowed to delve into the principal,” Behe said.

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