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Woodlawn Cemetery Facing $16K Deficit

Written By: Candice Cole
Woodlawn Deficit

       Elmira's Woodlawn Cemetery is facing some tough financial times. For the first time since it was established in 1858, the 150 year old cemetery is no longer financially self-sufficient. 
     This year, Woodlawn saw about $235,000.00 in revenue, but ended up spending over $251,000.00 in expenses, leaving them upside down by a little over $16,000.00. It's a problem that's likely to increase over time.
     Woodlawn Cemetery Superintendent, Bryce Cuyle says, "There's not as many burials anymore due to ashes a lot of people with cremains, a lot of people hold on to their ashes.They don't bury them right away."
     McInerny Funeral Home Director, KevinMcInerny also weighed in saying, "30 years ago they were probably doing twice the burials they're doing today, and that's the economics, it's just the people aren't being buried as they were 30-40 years ago."
     According to the cemetery's Results of Operations Report, the number of burials used to be over 300 in the 1990s. Last year, Woodlawn only saw 150, which was a major contributor to the cemetery's loss of income.
      Woodlawn cemetery also makes money through interest and dividens coming out of their Perpetual Care Trust. This year that only came out to a little over $80,000.00, the lowest it's been since 1986.
      Cuyle says, "The interest rates on that are bad, and so the money we get from that isn't what it used to be in 2000. Hopefully the economy will get a little better and maybe those interest rates will go up and help ease the burden."
     Woodlawn is trying to save money where ever it can like composting materials instead of buying topsoil and making cuts to staffing.
     The City has also had to step in to help with expenses. Elmira Mayor Sue Skidmore says, "We've already paid $114,000.00 in utilities and health insurance and pensions."
     She added that if the cemetery commission is unable to find the funds to maintain Woodlawn, then it would fall back on the city to maintain.