The state of Taylor’s municipal departments, such as the cemetery, are being examined in ongoing council meetings. Performance, accomplishments, concerns and plans for the future are being reviewed.
Taylor’s city cemetery has more land on the way while handling maintenance concerns for the people we’ve already lost.
On March 25, the Taylor City Council heard from Public Works Director Jim Gray on the state of the City of Taylor Cemetery.
“Today, we have 114 acres at the cemetery,” said Gray. “We have four active sections and a fifth section that will eventually be developed.
The new addition is slated to be 41.46 acres.
“With the currently less than 3,500 spaces available to purchase,” said Gray, “in the next few years, we’ll need to begin to really look at that fifth addition.”
Gray said some recent improvements include better customer service, accountability, communication between staff members and a growing relationship with area funeral providers. Weaknesses include the cemetery’s water system, equipment, funding and other items.
The cemetery has one fulltime coordinator and one fulltime maintenance worker. Gray said the city doesn’t have enough manpower to maintain the cemetery to the quality demanded by some citizens. Added difficulty arises when staff finds deviations from regulations on memorializing graves, and enforcement can become sensitive.
“(Citizens) will be out there daily or weekly taking care of their loved one’s plots, and I understand it,” said Councilmember Dwayne Ariola, “but if it takes (city staff) what should take you 20 hours to mow, it’s taking you 40 or 50 hours because you’ve got to remove stuff then put it back and that type of thing, it’s just a touchy situation.”
Gray said they might revisit rules on enforcement later this year. Meanwhile, city staff hopes to have an additional fulltime maintenance person to allow more grounds coverage and help respond to customers more quickly.
“If we have two people out there fulltime, they can actually work to level some of the small headstones themselves.”
Gray mentioned that many headstones were unleveled, fallen or deteriorated. Capital improvement projects (CIPs) could be another avenue to help with that weakness.
“With $37,500, we could do approximately 150 headstones,” said Gray.
Councilmember Robert Garcia indicated his desire to keep the cemetery looking well, especially around holidays. He noted that some of the older headstones may belong to some of the city’s original citizens.
“We need to really look at the budget items for that to keep the cemetery up to par,” said Garcia. “We really need to fix their headstones in my opinion, so that’s a line item I’d like to see, because that’s part of the history of Taylor.”
When it comes to future headstones, Councilmember Mitch Drummond offered a suggestion that might help with trimming demands.
“Maybe we should look at requiring the low-profile headstones that you can run a mower over where they’re more or less at ground height. That’s what my dad has out there,” said Drummond. “A lot of cemeteries are doing that now. It’d save a lot of weed eating. Another 40 acres, that’s going to be a big job someday.”
Potholes and deteriorated asphalt also plague the cemetery’s streets. Gray would like the city to invest money into a CIP project to rebuild some roads.
“We think with $150,000, we could do approximately 20% of our streets in our cemetery each year and with a five-year program, we could get that in nice shape to where it looked good again.”
City staff also thinks a new cemetery office building is needed. One might be built for $250,000, although there might be other options.
“It’s a portable office building office that we could get possibly for ($100,000) instead of building a whole new building,” said Gray.
For more on the state of the Taylor City Cemetery, view the discussion at https://taylortx.swagit.com/play/03252021-856/10.