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Financial modelling for the future management of Anglican cemeteries

In light of the newly amended Burial and Cremation Act, the Anglican Church of Tasmania has developed some financial modelling with respect to the future management costs of Anglican cemeteries across the State.

We have based our calculations on the following assumptions:

  • We need to maintain each cemetery for at least the next 100 years until the cemetery can be laid out as a park.
  • Cemetery management costs include: mowing/gardening; fencing and paths; maintenance of building and other structures; audit fees; record keeping and cemetery management.
  • Due to shifting demographics and church attendance, volunteer labour will be available for cemetery maintenance for only a limited period of time.
  • We need to meet the audit and record keeping requirements of the Act (eg. under the Act the Church can be fined $8,150 for failing to keep proper records).
  • Cemeteries have to operate as independent entities – we have not spread costs across cemeteries over the State (ie. they do not subsidise each other).
  • Existing infrastructure remains as is, but is maintained for the life of the cemetery, costs are best estimate.
  • Cemetery continues operating at current level of activity (in accordance with parish reports) until it is full.
  • Costs are not indexed for inflation over the next 100 years.
  • No allowances are made for what the market will bear – these are just the calculated costs of running the cemetery per plot.

Even though the assumptions in the calculator are conservative and not indexed for the 100-year lifespan, the costs to break even in the management of the cemeteries are extraordinarily high.

We would not be able to pass on the real costs of cemetery management to users of the cemetery.  However, an average range from $10,000-$20,000 based on the individual cemetery will be necessary, in due course, to make some (even if inadequate) provision for the requirements of the new Burial and Cremation Act. There are some exceptions, for example the cemetery at Pontville which is now in demand as the Cornelian Bay cemetery reaches capacity.

We are expecting an incremental increase to the current fee levels over the next few years until fees are at the level required to provide for responsible management of the cemeteries.

It is worth noting that below we are talking about the costs associated with cemetery maintenance which need to be recouped from the sale of burial plots, not the actual charges (fees) that will be applied over the next few years to provide for responsible management of the cemeteries.

Here are five working examples for actual cemeteries managed by the Anglican Church:

Example 1 – Small urban fringe cemetery with 30 burial plots available for sale over the next 15 years. When the costs associated with cemetery maintenance are calculated over the next 115 years, and divided over the number of available burial plots, the estimated cost per burial plot to maintain the cemetery would be $26,007.78. Working example – Small urban fringe cemetery.

Example 2 –  Small town (1) cemetery with 120 burial plots available for sale over the next 50 years. When the costs associated with cemetery maintenance are calculated over the next 150 years, and divided over the number of available burial plots, the estimated cost per burial plot to maintain the cemetery would be $10,782.80. Working example – Small town (1) cemetery.

Example 3 – Small town (2) cemetery with 100 burial plots available for sale over the next 50 years. When the costs associated with cemetery maintenance are calculated over the next 150 years, and divided over the number of available burial plots, the estimated cost per burial plot to maintain the cemetery would be $11,036.36. Working example –Small town (2) cemetery.

Example 4 – Rural cemetery with 47 burial plots available for sale over the next 50 years. When the costs associated with cemetery maintenance are calculated over the next 150 years, and divided over the 47 available burial plots, the estimated cost per burial plot to maintain the cemetery would be $23,298.64. Working example – Rural cemetery.

Example 5 – Urban fringe cemetery with 1000 burial plots available for sale over the next 100 years. This is the only semi-commercial cemetery out of the 81 we currently have in the State. When the costs associated with cemetery maintenance are calculated over the next 200 years, and divided over the 1000 available burial plots, the estimated cost to maintain the cemetery would be $3,046.81. Working example – Urban fringe cemetery.

We do not want to increase fees for burial in Anglican Cemeteries but are required to manage them under the terms of the Burial and Cremation Act. Even though we will not be able to recoup the actual costs of the increased responsibilities under the Act, we are simply applying the Act in good faith and as careful stewards of our resources.

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