By Anna Jauhola
As all costs continue to rise, so too are public services affected for those in need.
The Kittson County Commissioners approved a change to the county burial policy during their regular meeting on Tuesday, June 6. Since 2014, the cost of a county burial – for those who have no other means to pay for the services – has been $3,150. To be cremated, the cost is $2,300.
Beth Seed, eligibility supervisor for Kittson County Social Services, addressed the commissioners regarding the need for an increase in the burial price. She said the two funeral directors in the county have expressed they can’t do funerals for that cost anymore as they are losing money, and have turned down a few recently.
“In talking with Steve (Collins) and Mark (Austin), they would like to see the county burial number around the $4,000 mark. They feel like that would cover their costs and labor a little more,” Seed said. “But cremation could stay at $2,300. They’re OK with that.”
Seed said they have approved only cremations in 2022 and 2021, plus four this year so far. The client gets to choose whether they prefer to be buried or cremated. Social services only deals with Kittson County residents, whether they are living in the county or in another county.
Kittson County is already highest on the high end for burial cost, with Roseau County having just increased to $3,150 from $2,800 and Clearwater County at $3,000. Other regional counties are under $3,000.
“Those are county board decisions,” said Kathy Johnson, social services director. “The board has the right to refuse that amount. But then the county social services is scrambling to find somebody that would come and take care of (the burial). Those prices are not because the funeral homes in those counties want those prices. They’re pretty frustrated with those prices.”
Commissioner Theresia Gillie said she’d like to see that cost go up to $4,000 to ensure the funeral homes are at least breaking even. Commission Chair Loren Younggren pointed out there are more people being cremated and suggested increasing both costs to possibly even out the situation.
The board approved updating the policy and increasing the cost of county burials and cremations each by $400 so burials will now cost $3,550 and cremation will cost $2,700.
In other business, the board:
• Approved the high bid from Ben Habermann of $3,127.77 for an abandoned vehicle from a tax forfeited property. There were 13 bids for the car.
• Approved the top three bids for the tax forfeited property at 521 5th St. SE – Dan Twamley, $127,500; Keaton and Faith Hultgren, $115,000; and Jayden Swenson, $101,800. These three will have the chance to submit oral bids at the Tuesday, June 20 commission meeting.
• Heard an annual report from Macyn Lofstrom, director of Kittson County Hospice.
• Approved a cooperative agreement for a regional fraud prevention investigations program. Marshall County is the host for this program, which is paid for by the state of Minnesota.
• Heard an update from Emergency manager Scot Olson regarding a train derailment along Highway 59 between Lancaster and Lake Bronson.
• Approved a gambling permit for the University of Minnesota Crookston Teambackers for a 50/50 raffle for the Mark Olsonawski Golf Tournament at Two River Golf Course in Hallock.
• Approved adding former deputy Alex Rudnik as a part-time fill-in deputy to use as needed at the same rate of pay of $34.44 per hour.
• Appointed Younggren as a member of the Northwest Regional Library board. Younggren abstained from the vote.
The next regular meeting is set for Tuesday, June 20 and will include the county board of appeals. The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. and the board of appeals will be at 6 p.m.
By Anna Jauhola