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Plot prices go up at Langley Cemetery

"For the past six years, the Langley Woodmen Cemetery has been a volunteer project.In 1994, the city of Langley considered selling the cemetery because it could no longer pay for the maintenance it required. That's when a volunteer group called the Friends of the Langley Cemetery stepped in to take over much of the mowing, weeding and fund-raising projects needed to keep the cemetery beautiful.But now, as the city begins to open more than 800 new burial plots for sale, many of the cemetery's Friends are ready to cut back their volunteer work. To keep the place up in the style to which it has been accustomed, the Langley City Council voted Wednesday night to raise the price of burial plots by $100 to begin paying for some professional maintenance help.The vote came none too soon for council member Dione Murray, who chairs the city's cemetery committee.We're getting to a point where we're running out of volunteers, Murray said.As of this month, individual burial plots will sell for $550, making them the most expensive burial plots on South Whidbey. The extra income from the plots will be routed directly into a cemetery maintenance fund, which Murray said should take in about $5,000 this coming year. In spite of the increase, Murray said demand for Woodmen Cemetery plots should remain high. She said she knows of 32 people who have been waiting for the price increase before buying their plots because they want to support the cemetery's maintenance fund. Langley Mayor Lloyd Furman said there is nothing like a price increase to increase sales.The last time we did it, demand went up, he said.The fee increase is one of a very few types of municipal fee increases that are not affected by the now-defunct Inititiative 695, the newly-passed I-722, and a proposed but yet-unnamed successor to I-695 promised by Washington's initiative king, Mukilteo's Tim Eyman. Murray said she called Eyman at home last week to determine if the increase in cemetery plot prices would be wiped out by one of his initiatives. He said no, labeling cemetery plots as goods sold.Council member Neil Colburn said he was confused by the distinction and chose to abstain from the 4-0 vote for the price increase. After the meeting he apologized to Murray for his confusion on the issue and commended her on tracking Eyman down in his own home.I am quite critical of that little jerk myself, he said.Murray noted that even though plots in the Woodmen Cemetery are the most expensive locally, the price for a plot here compares favorably with the $1,800 charged for plots at cemeteries in King County. She said the Woodmen Cemetery is also unique in the fact that it allows the placement of above-ground grave markers. Most other cemeteries, she said, only permit markers that are flush with ground level, allowing mowers to pass over them. That uniqueness also makes the Langley Cemetery more difficult to maintain, since the grass around those markers must be trimmed with a Weedeater.Murray also noted that the Friends of the Langley Woodmen Cemetery will continue to do some of the maintenance at the cemetery. "

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