In 2005, I sent a check for $1,000 payable to the Oak Dale Cemetery to be deposited in the Oak Dale Cemetery Perpetual Care Trust account. According to administrative regulation 22, Oak Dale Cemetery, page 2, dated Jan. 1, 2013, “Perpetual care money is money paid to care for one or more graves in perpetuity. The money is placed in a trust fund and the interest is used to keep up the gravesite and to place flowers on the grave.”
Until 2015, the city of Urbana fulfilled its contractual obligation to the members of this fund. Mayor Bean and Kerry Brugger have decided to discontinue filling the individual urns and to use the fund for the beautification of the cemetery. This was all done behind closed doors. No effort was made to contact fund participants.
I did not pay $1,000 to beautify Oak Dale Cemetery. Any beautification, plantings, filling the large public urns should be paid from cemetery or city proceeds, not the Perpetual Care Trust Fund. I know interest rates have declined and this is the excuse given for the lack of funds. However, if a complete audit of this fund were to be made, it will show that the fund has been grossly mismanaged over the years. By this administration’s own admission, this fund paid to fill urns for years for individuals who had not paid into the fund, simply because the city did not take the time to check a list from a local florist who had previously provided this service to the city, as well as to many other individuals, against their records of the Perpetual Care Trust Fund participants.
I recently received a bill for $89.36 to fill and maintain my family urn for this year. This is a service I have already paid the city of Urbana to perform. The city still has my $1,000, along with approximately $80,000 for other participants. The city will not return my money, nor will they provide the services they agreed would be provided in perpetuity.
To further compound this travesty, many families who have paid into this fund no longer live in the area and do not know the city has defaulted on their agreement.
What recourse do we have? How can one party of a two-party agreement arbitrarily change the terms and conditions of the agreement because it has encountered financial difficulties? We should not only expect, but demand our elected officials and their envoys to be above this type of unethical, immoral and quite possibly illegal behavior.
Please join with me in expressing your outrage by contacting Mayor Bean and Kerry Brugger, demanding the city provide the services it agreed to the members of the Perpetual Care Trust Fund.
Thomas W. Allen