Council's burial fees jump $1100

By KATE McINTOSH

DYING is about to become more expensive on the Tweed. As of tomorrow council burial fees will jump more than $1000.

Under the revised fee schedule a basic lawn cemetery burial will rise from $2154 to $3254.

Weekend penalty rates would add another $660 to costs.

The move has angered Australian Funeral Directors Association president Wes Heritage, who said the price hikes were a cash grab.

He said the increase brought Tweed costs in line with those for major cemeteries in Sydney and Melbourne.

"It's about the bottom line...This is the sort of decision made by administrators and accountants not properly elected officials," he said.

Mr Heritage, a funeral director at Easton Funeral Services in Florence Street, Tweed Heads, said soaring burial costs were a sting in the tail to Tweed's most disadvantaged groups.

In real terms, he estimates the price hike will increase the cost of a basic funeral service from about $6000 to more than $7000.

"That puts burial out of reach for the average family on the Tweed," he said.

"In the end it is those less fortunate that will be disadvantaged the most by this."

In August the Daily News reported that an influx of Gold Coasters flocking across the border for cheaper burial services was placing greater demand on Tweed cemetery services.

A council report released that same month noted: "As a result of lower fees in Tweed Shire, anecdotal information supplied by the cemeteries administrators suggests that there is an increasing number of applications originating from outside the shire, placing additional demand on Tweed cemeteries and increasing the operating costs."

Mr Heritage dismissed the claims saying the Gold Coast burial costs remained substantially cheaper at below $2000.

Despite calls to several council offices throughout NSW yesterday the Daily News was unable to find burial costs that topped Tweed fees.

Mr Heritage said the latest increase comes on the heels of an earlier price rise in July this year and without any improvement to existing services on the Tweed.

"They (Tweed Shire Council) are out of touch with what good cemetery facilities are offering and what service requirements exist," he said.

The Daily News sought comment from Tweed Shire Council yesterday in relation to burial service charges, but was advised by its media spokeswoman that council had enforced a "no comment" policy with the Daily News.



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