County hikes funeral reimbursement feesPublished 12:00pm Thursday, December 18, 2008
Otter Tail County’s Human Services Department, which provides for funeral expenses when no private means are available, will increase expenditure allowance rates to area funeral homes. The county board approved an increase of $250 during its regular Tuesday meeting.
Human Services Director John Dinsmore informed the county board that area funeral home directors proposed an increase in the professional services rate from $1,000 to $1,850 per funeral. In light of budget constraints, the five-person county board agreed to the increase of $250.
When adding in other necessary funeral home-related services, the county currently reimburses funeral homes $2,865 per funeral. With the $250 increase, the total will go to $3,115.
“Our county’s current policy and funeral allowance expenditure rates are, on average, comparable to other expenditures based on a survey of 20 other counties,” Dinsmore said. “We do, however, acknowledge that our rates have remained unchanged since 2000.”
Chris Carlson of Glende-Nilson Funeral Home, Fergus Falls, said each funeral home has an obligation to serve and incurs expenses well beyond the reimbursement of $2,865 from the county. The average funeral cost these days, he said, runs between $8,300 and $9,000. Those figures include grave (cemetery) work and incidental expenses.
The county first investigates to see if a deceased person has contracted for any prepaid funeral arrangements. If it is determined that the person did not have sufficient means to defray the necessary expenses of a funeral and final dispositon, the county then provides for those services.
“The county’s current policy places limits on costs associated with grave space, opening and closing costs and winter storage,” Dinsmore said. “Funeral home policies can significantly increase burial-related expenditures.”
Thus far in 2008 the county has footed the bill for its share of 43 funerals, for individuals where private financial resources were not available. Since 2000, the most county-funded funerals totaled 52. That was in calendar year 2002.
Also in attendance at Tuesday’s county board meeting was Diane Duenow of Faith and Hope Funeral Home, Fergus Falls.