State Fails to Pay Out Burial Debts
Homewood Memorial Gardens is one of the many cemeteries not getting paid by the state for burying and cremating the poor and destitute.
Illinois is millions of dollars behind on its funeral, burial and cremation debts, according to a report by the State-Journal Register. In many cases they are running several months behind, even up to a year in some instances. The situation has funeral directors and cemeteries, like Homewood Memorial Gardens—which has a contract to bury the county’s indigents—in a sticky situation between the ethical treatment of the dead and the reality of waiting months to get paid.
“It’s just like any other operation: You have to be able to count on your accounts receivable,” Vickie Hand, a cemetery professional in Homewood and a vice president of the Illinois Cemetery and Funeral Home Association, told the State Journal-Register. “It’s gotten to the point, unfortunately, that death is not one of the first things that comes to everybody’s mind to be paid for.”
The state provides funeral arrangements for 9,000 to 12,000 people annually, according to SJ-R.com. The maximum payment for a funeral is $1,103, and $552 for burial or cremation.
“We believe that everyone deserves a decent funeral and burial or cremation,” Januari Smith, spokeswoman for Human Services told SJ-R.com.
The unpaid funeral bills are part of the total $8 billion the state owes in unpaid bills—a problem that will only get worse without pension reform, according to Smith in the SJ-R.com report.
Read the full story on the State Journal-Register's webstite.