Business is dying at Sedro-Woolley's cemetery

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on October 26, 2012 at 6:16 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 26 at 6:44 PM

The healing powers of meditation and yoga are employed in a class at the Sedro-Woolley senior center. While this is not your typical hotbed for Eastern mysticism, three people sit chanting, stretching, and occasionally nodding off. 

First timer Betty Carroll says she showed up because she believes it’s important for an old "downward facing dog" to learn new tricks.

“People are just trying to stay young and stay active,” she says. 

But that's apparently part of the problem here. The city is getting younger.  Just 14% of the people in Sedro-Woolley are over age 64. That means the cost of dying isn't keeping up with the cost of living.

Doug Hutter says his local funeral home is not a growth industry these days.

“There's not a lot of business for the funeral home, but that can be a good thing for the population,” he said.

Good for the population, but not necessarily for City Hall. The city subsidizes the cemetery. Rising costs are now digging Sedro-Woolley a financial hole.

The city spends more than $130,000 a year to run Union Cemetery, and between increased costs and decreased deaths, officials want to raise the cost of being buried to $2,100, about a 33% increase. That’s still cheaper than a lot of places, but pricey for such a small town. 

City Councilman Rick Lemley says they thought about allowing a private company to come in and take over, but then learned the prices would rise just as much.

 “We thought it better to do it ourselves and maintain control of the cemetery for our citizens, without outside interference,” said Lemley.

And that's just fine with Betty and her yoga buddies, who, even as they assume the "corpse pose," have no plans on visiting the cemetery anytime soon.

The Sedro-Woolley City Council will vote on the new cemetery rates next month. If passed, they'll will take effect in January.
 

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