In response to the column, "Inside the City," in The Verde Independent (Aug. 1, 2008) by City Manager Doug Bartosh, it was very disappointing to read that the funding for the cemetery project was omitted in the city budget.
This cemetery is needed for our community because our current cemetery is full to capacity, and surrounding cemeteries are filling up faster than expected.
Over the years, this project has been put on hold. First, because of the 9/11 tragedy and again during the time that Cottonwood was involved in negotiating the purchase of the private water companies and planning for Cottonwood's future water needs.
Many hours of city staff's time and community members were spent planning the design of the cemetery. The FAA approval for placing the cemetery in the city owned property site also took an immense amount of time.
Fiscal year 2008/09 was to be the breakout year for this project and the reason given for axing the project were budget concerns. Although $575,000 was budgeted, that entire amount would not be necessary to spend, considering that the City of Cottonwood owns the parcel of land where the cemetery would be located and its close proximately to the wastewater plant, which would provide all the reclaimed water necessary.
Grading and fencing could be done at a reasonable rate by city staff, and the biggest expense would be the purchase and placement of the ground crypts and columbaries, which can be done through the vendor and financed over a number of years, thus minimally impacting the city's current and future budgets.
In his article, the city manger states that it was decided that other alternatives were available and that the council (and I take that to mean the city) should not compete with private enterprise to provide this service. The idea for the city pursuing this project is to provide an affordable resting place for our loved ones, and include an area dedicated to our veterans.
The city is already involved in operating a cemetery and in speaking to the proprietor of the local funeral home and future cemetery owner, his statement to me was that he supported municipal cemetery so that the public would have a choice and not be forced into either a private or public cemetery.
I would hope that in the interest of serving the public that our city council takes another look at how this project can be done an provide this service to our community.