Dying to be buried here

By ED SOUTHORN

PEOPLE are dying to get to the Tweed. And it is not just because of the area's natural beauty. Tweed Shire Council reckons it is because our burial costs are cheaper.

Now the council's two administrators Max Boyd and Garry Payne want to slow down the trend by increasing the fees charged at council cemeteries.

The move is the latest in a growing cross-border battle between Tweed and Gold Coast councils.

Earlier this month the Tweed banned sales of water to the Gold Coast and from October Gold Coast City Council intends charging Tweed residents $132 to use its libraries.

Tweed has decided not to charge Gold Coast residents for book %borrowing, but wants them to pay their way when it comes to being buried.

The typical cost of getting buried in a general cemetery on the Tweed is set to rise by around 40 per cent more than $500 to nearly $1900 although Saturday penalty rates could add $700.

The basic cost of lawn cemetery burials is to soar by more than $1000 to $3022.

But local funeral directors say cost is not the factor.

Many southern Gold Coasters find Tweed's main lawn cemetery at Duranbah more convenient, and people who have moved north of the border% retain family ties on the Tweed.

The applications for burials often come from children whose mums and dads live here.

Director of Murwillumbah-based McGuiness Funerals Ross Vlismas said Gold Coast residents and their families were choosing Tweed burials, but added: "It's not really just that it is cheaper".

"The Tweed Valley Lawn Cemetery is a very nice cemetery and people choose it for that," Mr Vlismas said.

"And on the southern end of the Gold Coast there isn't a cemetery. The closest is Mudgeeraba, and the nearest lawn cemetery is at Southport. For people at Tugun that's a long way to go.

"People think of the place they want to be."

Mr Vlismas said the two councils also calculated costs in slightly different ways, despite cost comparisons produced by Tweed council.

"At the end of the day there is not much in it," he said.

"It's mainly the fact that for Elanora, Palm Beach and Tugun people, Duranbah is still closer to home than to go further up the coast."

A report from council staff to the administrators this week warned: "As a result of the lower fees in Tweed Shire, anecdotal information supplied by the cemeteries administrator suggests that there is an increasing number of applications originating from outside of the shire, placing additional demand on Tweed's cemeteries and increasing the operating costs.

"It is felt that the lower cemetery fees in Tweed Shire are a major contributing factor. "Tweed Shire is willing to receive burials of persons from outside of the shire, however the shortfall in income to costs must be addressed."

COST OF DYING GENERAL CEMETERIES: Tweed now: 5$1351 New Tweed fee:5 $1889 Gold Coast:5$1832 Byron:5$2240 Lismore:5$1595 LAWN CEMETERIES: Tweed now:5$1988 New Tweed fee:5$3022 Gold Coast:5$2346 Byron:5not available Lismore:5$3698



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