For Immediate Release
Twitter: @NYSCemeteries and on Facebook
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact the Association at 518.434.1134 or Steven Sloane at 315-479-5826
GRANDMA MAY NOT REST IN PEACE
Proposed State regulations acknowledge eroding consumer protections and are a path to higher local taxes
Albany, New York (October 22, 2013) In yet another example of New York’s fall as a national leader, the New York State Cemetery Board, the organization charged with protecting human burials and state not-for-profit cemeteries, has proposed regulations that will erode consumer protections for the burial of loved ones and would financially damage New York’s not-for-profit cemeteries.
The proposed regulations would aid for-profit pet cemeteries in burying human remains – contradicting existing regulation – while still prohibiting human not-for-profit cemeteries from burying cremated pet remains with their owners. The state’s own regulations outline the lack of protections involved.
The State’s proposal is a sweeping elimination of a national standard of regulations and provides families with no certainty that their loved ones will have a permanent burial.
The New York State Association of Cemeteries (NYSAC), the statewide association representing New York’s not-for-profit cemeteries, has stated in filings with the state that their detailed review of this regulation leads them to conclude that this proposal will erode the consumer protections found in the entirety of New York State’s cemetery regulations and laws that are now a national model. They have also stated that the proposal will significantly erode the financial viability of not-for-profit cemeteries. Under state law, if a not-for-profit cemetery fails it becomes the local property tax burden of the municipality in which it is located.
“NYSAC has fought for years to increase consumer protections and options for the residents of New York which has led to our state being recognized as the national leader in this area. We are extremely disappointed that the state of New York is going backwards in these efforts and supports a policy which may lead to the abandonment of many cemeteries across New York,” stated JoAnne Sullivan, president of the New York State Association of Cemeteries.
Under the proposed regulations, there is no guarantee that a family’s human loved one will not be exhumed to resell the grave or to sell the pet cemetery property for commercial purposes. In fact, the bulk of the proposed regulation outlines the lack of consumer protections as follows:
“This property is not a cemetery for human cremains.
Cremains disposed of on this property WILL NOT be covered by the protections and legal rights granted by New York State Law to cremains disposed of in a cemetery.
The family and descendants of the deceased WILL NOT be covered by the protections and legal rights granted by New York State Law to the family and descendants of deceased persons whose cremains are disposed of in a cemetery such as mandatory records of burials, rights of memorialization and restrictions on removals.
There is NO ASSURANCE under New York State Law that this property will be maintained in its current condition and for its current purpose.
There is NO ASSURANCE under New York State Law that this property will not be sold or transferred to another owner, or that access to this property will remain open to you, the family or the descendants of the deceased.
There is NO ASSURANCE under New York State Law that any burial plots or memorials for cremains on this property will be maintained or preserved for any period of time.
There is NO ASSURANCE under New York State Law that any cremains disposed of on this property will remain for any period of time in the location they were disposed, or on this property at all.” (Capitalization in the actual regulation, DOS-36-13-00004-P)
NYSAC has repeatedly expressed problems and opposition to this proposal as drafted and has repeatedly asked that the regulation be withdrawn and amended. These requests have been ignored by state regulators.
The Association asserts that in this regulatory proposal, for-profit entities are being granted immunity to provide the services of the not-for-profit entities that the State Cemetery Board is charged to protect.
“Our state should be looking for ways to help New York’s not-for-profit cemeteries survive to serve the public and provide peace of mind to families. Our regulators should not be aiding the continued financial decline of cemeteries leading them to become the tax burden of local government and our residents,” said Steven Sloane of Woodlawn Cemetery.
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