Wellsville eyes renewal of cemetery levy

WELLSVILLE — With today as the deadline for submission for the November general election, Wellsville Village Council approved a resolution Tuesday night to place the renewal of its cemetery levy on the ballot.

Voters will have the opportunity on Nov. 6 to cast their votes on the renewal of the village’s five-year, 1-mill cemetery levy as council approved the second and final resolution regarding the matter, expected to be submitted today to the county Board of Elections.

The resolution was approved 5-0 vote with John Morrow absent due to illness.

If approved, the levy will generate around $24,700 in revenue annually for the next five years, the money going toward maintenance and operations of the cemetery, along with payment of salaries of cemetery personnel and payments of contributions per Ohio Revised Code.

The first collection of levy money takes place in 2019, and there will be no increase in taxes for residents.

Prior to council’s vote on Tuesday, Commerce Street resident Anthony Lombardozzi provided council with several questions regarding the cemetery and its operations, handled by volunteers and its current two-man street department.

“The volunteer work is truly appreciated. However, it’s not going to go forever,” Lombardozzi said. “So do we have a plan of maintaining the streets and the roads and the 80 acres on the hill (Spring Hill Cemetery) with two employees?”

Mayor Nancy Murray said the village is advertising for a full-time employee, which will bring the street department to a three-person crew. She also said the village is looking to receive quotes from contractors for mowing during the growing seasons at the cemetery, but no bids have been received.

Murray also provided information on the cemetery levy, which as mentioned brings in $24,000 annually. In 2016, the cemetery incurred $77,000 in expenses, and $64,000 last year, meaning the expenses also came from the general fund. “That’s why our general fund, we just can’t get it built back up,” Murray said.

The village receives some revenues from the cemetery from openings and closings along with sales of plots, which costs about $700 for each opening and closing.

“But the thing is with selling lots and opening graves is that it’s not always dependent on money with one grave a month or one grave a year,” Councilwoman Karen Dash said.

Also commenting on the matter was 10th Street resident Mike Varish, who inquired how long the cemetery had been running in a deficit, which Fiscal Officer Hoi Black stating “I would say probably for the past seven years.”

Varish then suggested the village look into privatizing the cemetery.

“You let a private entity take over that cemetery, and they’ll tell you what it’s going to be, and maybe council should decide it’s either going to be a lot more money or we’re going to privatize it,” Varish said. “Because I can’t run my house seven years in a row in the hole. You’ve got to stop it.”

Murray said the village has considered either contracting out to operate it or possibly privatize it.

Lombardozzi then asked, in the event that the cemetery is privatized, if the cemetery’s levy would be nullified. Murray said she would speak with village solicitor Dominic Frank on the matter.