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Funeral homes ask County Commissioners for funding increase in County Burial Program

Funeral home director for Proctor’s Mortuary, Lashon Proctor, requested a $2,500 increase in the County Burial Program before the Jefferson County Commissioners’ Court on Monday. If approved, the increase will be factored in during budget approvals Oct. 1.

The Burial Assistance Program provides financial assistance to eligible, low-income Jefferson County residents to help with the cost of a funeral, burial or cremation.

“The County Burial program is an excellent program that the county does for persons that may not be insured for whatever reason or don’t have the finances,” Proctor said. “We, as funeral home providers, have been doing this. I think everybody is really excited about being able to help counties in providing this service for families, but in that sense, with this program on the funeral side, there has not been an increase in 12 years.”

Proctor said the increase request comes from the need to close the gap between the rising costs of caskets, embalming methods and paying funeral home employees, among other necessities.

“The cost is in the caskets that we have to buy from an outside entity,” he said. “The cost is the embalming fluid that we have to embalm those bodies with, that also comes from an outside entity. Those are the things that we have to pay for and costs for materials that we have to get. Those are two things we can’t control.

“Then, of course, you have employees. You have a person you have to pay to go out on these services, someone to pick up the remains, someone to dress the remains, upkeep of the facility, all those things have increased over the years.”

Currently, Jefferson County allots $1,500 to the County Burial Program, more than most Texas counties.

“Seventy-five percent to 80 percent of the counties in Texas pay a flat thousand dollars,” Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said. “We’re above the norm for Texas.

“A lot of counties only allow cremations, so we allow the burials and we pay a premium for that. I don’t doubt that the consumer price index has increased over the last 12 years, but we’re already at a premium to other counties.”

Commissioners will decide the matter when they approve the budget Oct. 1.