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Plot fees increased at county-owned cemeteries
First increase since 2015 needed to cover costs
memorial park fee increase
Shown is Golden Belt Memorial Park north of Great Bend. The Barton County Commission Wednesday morning approved raising the cost of plots at Golden Belt and at Hillcrest Cemetery, both owned by the county.

To better cover the rising costs of upkeep for Barton County owned and operated memorial parks and cemeteries north of Great Bend, the County Commission Wednesday morning OKed an increase in plot fees. These apply to both Golden Belt Memorial Park and Hillcrest Cemetery located on NW 50 Road.

“The regulations were last passed in 2015,” Register of Deeds Pam Wornkey said. Due to the continuous increase in expenses to maintain and keep things up at the memorial park and cemetery, she suggested the price increase from $250 to $350 for all plots. 

Plot recording fees will remain the same because they are regulated by statute in the state of Kansas. There will also be no increase in marking and transfer fees.

“It’s not a huge amount,” District 5 Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. “You get perpetual care for that and that means as long as the county owns these, we have to maintain them. This is just a little bit of seed money that will help that going. It will help everybody in the county and not have to be such a burden on the tax base.”

“That is correct,” Wornkey said. “All of the money that is given to us to purchase lots does go towards perpetual care and the maintenance of the cemeteries.”

A joint effort

Barton county took over the memorial parks in 1996 following a bankruptcy. The record keeping was assigned to several different offices in the county until 2009 when they were consolidated in the Register of Deeds Office, Wornkey said.

“The Register of Deeds Office and the Road and Bridge Department worked closely together to make the operation smooth over the years,” she said. “We’ve developed a very good working relationship. We both understand the needs and importance of the other department and make every effort to keep and maintain that working relationship.”

Road and Bridge handles the maintenance and Wornkey’s office handles the record keeping and sale of plots. 

“I would like to thank Pam for all the work she’s done with this,” District 1 Commissioner Kirby Krier said. “I also want to thank Road and Bridge because I think they work very well together.”

“It is very much a co-partnership,” she said. By definition, a cemetery sexton is in charge of maintenance and records, so this is truly a shared responsibility.

Krier said some may have bought plots out there who have decided to be buried someplace else. There was a time before the county took over that the parks had fallen into disarray and disrepair.

He wondered if there was a way for those who no longer want their plots to transfer them.

“The way that we handle those situations, and we have handled several of those, is we suggest that they try to sell them first to individuals,” Wornkey said. If this happens, they just need to the Register of Deeds Office and they will transfer the deed.

The county won’t buy them back, she said. But someone could donate a plot to the church, funeral home, the needy or back to the county. The county does not buy back lots, but they can donate it back to them.

She said the price increase and the resolution will go on the county website under both Register of Deeds and Memorial Parks.