Township hired to help with cemetery finances


With the recent retirement of long-time volunteer treasurers Gladys and Gordon Garlough, the Williamsburg Community Cemetery board searched, without success, for a replacement.

At the June 26th South Dundas council meeting, treasurer Shannon Geraghty formally requested “that council approve the transfer of all financial activities and reporting for the Williamsburg Community Cemetery to the Township of South Dundas at a fee of $1,750 annually.”

The request came after a previous discussion on the issue was raised at the June 5th council meeting by councillor Archie Mellan on behalf of the Williamsburg Community Cemetery board.

According to Geraghty, “the costs being proposed by staff would cover the preparation of annual financial statements by our current auditors in the amount of $750 to $1,000 along with staff time at 1 to 1.5 hours monthly.”

Mellan, who had discussed the proposal with cemetery board chair John Knier earlier that day, said, “$1,750 is way too much. Originally, they were getting it done for nothing.”

“They wish to keep what money they have coming in to go toward the cemetery.”

“If it’s too much of a financial strap,” continued Mellan, “they’ll have to fold up, in which case the township will have to take over.”

With that said, Mellan revealed that the board wasn’t prepared to pay more than $750 per year, if they had to pay anything at all.

Several council members expressed concern that they would be setting a  precedent whereby other cemetery boards could come forward looking to the township to provide similar services for free or for a discounted rate.

The main issue, it was revealed, lay with the auditor’s fee. On their own, the cemetery board doesn’t need an auditor’s report. The township, however, cannot take responsibility for the cemetery’s finances without one.

While some councillor’s argued in favour of the $1,750, others agreed that the cost should be dropped.

The final decision: the township agrees to take over management of the cemetery board’s financial activities for a fee of $1,000 per year. At the end of the first year, staff will report on the actual cost associated with the task and council will re-evaluate what the fee should be going forward.

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