Counties Should Recoup Costs From Cemetery Upkeep

MACo Policy Associate Kevin Kinnally testified in support with an amendment of House Bill 877, “Burial Sites – Access, Disinterment, Criminal Penalties, and Tax Credit”, before the House Health and Government Operations Committee on February 28, 2018.

HB 877 provides local governments with a way to recover the costs of repair or
maintenance work performed by local governments in preserving and maintaining blighted or abandoned cemeteries. The county must notify the owner of the property, and if there is no response within two days the county would be able to perform the necessary work on the site. Counties are also authorized to then charge the owner for the cost of the work or impose a lien on the property.

The bill also offers counties the ability to offer a tax credit for an improvement of real property on a burial ground. The counties are seeking an amendment to clarify that counties opt-in and set the terms of the tax credit.

From MACo Testimony:

HB 877 provides local governments with a means for recovering the costs of repair or maintenance work performed by the local government. The county must first send notice to the owner that the site needs repair or maintenance. If the owner does not respond after two notices, the county is authorized to perform the needed work and then either charge the costs to the owner or impose a lien on the property.

Under current law, there is no mechanism for local governments to recoup the costs for these services from the owner of the cemetery. Local governments that would like to remedy or restore abandoned private cemeteries may only raise money to perform the services themselves, or rely on charitable organizations and community service volunteers. This bill creates a mechanism for local governments to offset the costs associated with preserving these abandoned properties while ensuring that the owner of the property is also invested.

Additionally the bill authorizes counties to grant, under local law, a local property tax credit on an improvement of real property that substantiates, demarcates, commemorates, or celebrates a burial ground. MACo seeks amendments to clarify that counties set the terms of the credit under local law – a common practice with locally enacted tax credit programs.”

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.

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