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Busy plotting: Town to vote to privatize cemetery

SHARON — Should the East Side Cemetery be privatized and independent of the town? This will be a question facing residents at the annual town meeting on Friday, May 14, at 8 p.m. at Town Hall. Taxpayers will also vote on the budgets for the coming fiscal year that evening.

The resolution comes after several months of Board of Selectmen’s meetings in which some residents said they are concerned that funds set aside for the East Side Cemetery were being spent on maintenance and repairs at other cemeteries in town.

“We’re proposing to turn it back to a group of people who are interested in taking care of it,” First Selectman Bob Loucks said. “If the town approves the resolution, the group of people who would take care of the cemetery would have to set up a new association. With it, a whole set of rules, regulations and a committee.”

Prior to 1989, the East Side Cemetery Association was in charge of both maintaining the cemetery and managing the fund.

When the association was dissolved in 1989, its assets (including an endowment of $200,000) were put in the hands of the town. Subsequently, the town used those funds to maintain other cemeteries in town.

Several residents disapproved of this and made their feelings known at selectmen’s meetings.

“It was a long hard battle,” Glenn Dennis said of the discussions. “It should be private again. I’ve researched how other cemeteries are operated in surrounding towns, and all of them are self-sufficient and take care of themselves. The East Side Cemetery needs at least $26,000 of work right now because it has not been kept up by the town during all of these years.”

If the resolution is approved, Dennis said, the cemetery would receive an estimated $226,000 out of the town’s East Side Cemetery fund. The town would keep $200,000 for maintaining the other cemeteries. The town’s East Side Cemetery fund would be dissolved and the new East Side Cemetery Association would take charge.

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