Columbus running out of space for burials - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Columbus running out of space for burials

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

A funeral can cost a family at least $10,000 and that's just for the essential items.

For families in Columbus who cannot afford to bury their loved ones, the city will give them what is called a "pauper funeral."

However, city leaders tell News Leader 9 space is running out and they've got to make some adjustments.

"What we're looking at now is trying to be able to continue [offering funerals and] realize that we are running out of space," said Ron Smith, Public Services Deputy Director.

The average-sized grave is 10 feet by four feet. In order to save space, the city wants to take a single person grave and split it into three smaller graves.

"One of the options is to see if we can offer cremation," Smith said. "It allows us to take one particular space and put three bodies in that space."

Smith explained with the new plan, the city could extend the  two-acre space at Porterdale Cemetery for at least another 12 years without having to buy new land.

Smith told us the city buries on average 80 people at a price of $350 per burial. The burials cost the city about $28,000 in tax money a year.

"That cost is barely covering what the funeral homes have to do [to prepare the body for burial]," said Smith.

The city could soon be paying funeral homes more money for their services.  The cremations will cost around $600 a piece.

Smith stated the new plan will cost more for taxpayers up-front but in the long run, not having to buy new land will save money.

"We're just looking for a way to stretch out what we have as limited resources," Smith said. "Also, to help reimburse the funeral homes because they are out of pocket for these expenses and to give those that don't have any other means a place to be buried."

Smith said families will have the option to choose cremation or a body burial for their loved one.

City council still has to vote and approve the plan.

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