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County, Funeral Directors Association reach agreement on indigent burials

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MASSENA - The St. Lawrence County Funeral Directors Association, has agreed to accept the recently renegotiated resolution for the reimbursement rates and services provided for indigent burials in St. Lawrence County that was approved by the St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services and the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators.

According to NYS Public Health Law, each county has a responsibility to provide a proper burial for the residents of such county that do not have the financial means to pay for such services. In recent years the costs of providing this service has steadily increased, with 2012 nearly reaching a cost of $300,000. In an effort to reduce this cost and still provide a proper burial or cremation, the Department of Social Services and St. Lawrence County Funeral Directors Association formulated new service offerings with a new price structure that has the potential to save the county taxpayers a minimum of $60,000.

The new offerings for services will be either a direct burial in a cemetery or a direct cremation, both without funeral or graveside services. The SLC DSS will provide payment to the funeral homes for the services selected by the family in the amount of $1,850 for direct burial with a minimal cloth covered casket and concrete grave liner and $1,150 for direct cremation. In addition, payment for mileage within 75 miles of the funeral home and regular weekday grave opening charges of a cemetery up to $500 or crematory charges will be reimbursed on direct cost basis.

If a non-legally responsible family member requests to have additional services or merchandise such as: embalming, calling hours, funeral, graveside or memorial services, memorial books and cards, an urn for cremated remains, and/or assorted religious items, they will be required to supplement the above funds up to $2,500. The $2,500 will only be able to increase the services of the decedent and not the casket or grave liner. These charges are based on the general price list of each funeral home, which varies from funeral home to funeral home.

“In the current economic state of St. Lawrence County, along with many other counties in the state, we, the members of the Funeral Directors Association, feel that this is a ‘win-win’ situation for all parties involved. By re-organizing the service offerings and the payment reimbursement by the county, we are able to somewhat able control our expenses involved in the services provided; and the county is able to pay a lesser amount for those same services than in the past,” according to a release from the county’s Funeral Directors Association.

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