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YMC approves burial fee increase

November 14, 2012
By Steve Browne , Marshall Independent

GRANITE FALLS - The Yellow Medicine County Board agreed to remove an item from the consent agenda concerning a contract with the Contegrity Group, Inc. for construction management at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday.

Commissioner Louis Sherlin moved to table the motion for at least two weeks until new commissioner John Behrends takes office and County Administrator Ryan Krosch can be present.

The county contracted to buy the old Fagen Engineering building at 180 8th Ave. in Granite Falls in October and plans to relocate the Finance Administration Department and Property and Public Relations Services offices to the building after remodeling. The contract with Contegrity would provide for on-site management of the remodeling work.

After a lengthy discussion with representatives of four county funeral homes, the board voted to raise the budget for county-assisted funerals from $3,900 for a traditional funeral service to $4,440, and from $2,250 for immediate cremation to $3,015. Commissioner Gary Johnson cast a dissenting vote, commenting that Yellow Medicine County already pays among the highest rates for county-assisted burials in the state, according to figures supplied by the funeral directors.

Everett Bain, from Wing-Bain Funeral Home in Granite Falls, argued on behalf of the businesses, saying that there had not been an adjustment in fees for county assisted burials for six years.

Bain also presented a list of definitions and stipulations defining the county's relationship with funeral homes and clarifying the responsibilities of each for services and fees.

Though state statutes only require that a county provides cremation service for indigent families, Yellow Medicine County authorizes payment for preparation and burial services upon application.

The county does not pay for accessory services and items such as flowers, music, headstones, food or printed items.

Bain argued that a bare-bones county funeral can adversely impact a funeral home's business if it is seen by the public as substandard.

At the recommendation of Family Services Director Peg Heglund, the board authorized hiring former Restorative Justice Coordinator Julie Marthaler to provide Family Centered Planning meetings on a contract basis at the rate of $90 per hour for facilitation services and $50 per hour for follow-up services, with a maximum of $500 per session. Sherlin cast a dissenting vote, citing the high per hour cost relative to equivalent positions in other counties.

In other business, the commissioners voted to accept a bid from Kingsly Richter to rent 12 acres of the county landfill in Stony Run Township for haying on a six-year contract.

Richter bid $65 per acre, or $780 per year, beating the only other bid of $41 per acre or $500 per year.

The previous tenant who had rented the acreage for $62 per acre declined to bid again.



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