Idaho Falls Citizen Journalism

Leslie Shumate's picture

ESTABLISHED OWNERSHIP 4-5-17 LMS

The Salmon City Council continued towards the goal of making it possible for holders of unused cemetery plots to sell them to the city.

As to proof of ownership, City Clerk Mary Benton told the April 5 meeting of the council there is a book of records dating back to 1938 so that if a person wishing to sell doesn’t have the original “right to burial” deed there is a chance of finding the purchase in the records. Beyond that proof reverts to “established ownership.”

She said that it was not state legislation which moved her to ask for a buy-back policy, it was the number of people asking if they could sell cemetery rights back to the city. State law allows cities the right to take back unused burial plots. Benton pointed out that cities don’t have to follow state law word for word because cities have the leeway to make local laws more strict than state laws. Personally she adamantly disagrees with the ‘taking’ aspect of the state legislation and to a blanket rule which doesn’t take family plots into consideration. She said family owned cemetery rights-to-burial can span decades, 

The council agreed to creation of a ‘buy-back’ cemetery plot policy based on the seller being able to provide either a right-to-burial deed or some proof of “established ownership.” Benton will rewrite the draft policy for council approval and mentioned the policy won’t go into effect until the next budget setting process.

The City Council is also working to formulate a written policy on the time allowed for public comments. A draft version of Resolution 2017-1 was presented to the council. The council decided that rather than having a policy of five minutes per person the resolution should read, “Public comments will be limited to five minutes unless the council states otherwise before the comments begin.” It was made clear that the policy only covers statements offered during public comment opportunities and does not apply to comments during official public hearings or topics listed on a council agenda. Resolution 2017-1 will be rewritten to reflect the council decision and then presented for final approval.

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