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Under control

In this file photo, a control panel shows the burn temperature of one of two retorts, where the bodies are burned, at the Pine View Cemetery and Crematorium in Queensbury.

QUEENSBURY — Despite running the only crematorium in the region, the town is not breaking even on its operation.

Every year, the town has to subsidize the operations at Pine View Cemetery, to the tune of $50,000 last year. In previous years, it was even more.

So the cemetery and crematorium are losing less money than before, said town Accountant Joanne Watkins.

Every year, the crematorium has brought in more revenue, inching the town closer to breaking even. Last year, the operation brought in a total of $519,000 against a total expense of $589,000.

“That’s pretty close,” she said, noting that it was better than in the past.

The town has four employees at the Pine View Cemetery. While only one works full-time as cremater, the other three help out with crematorium services while also maintaining the cemetery, digging graves and other duties.

Their salaries and overtime last year were $281,000. Health insurance was another $108,000, and their combined pension, Social Security and workers’ compensation were $79,000.

In terms of supplies, the biggest expenses were $20,000 for equipment, $17,000 for heating fuel at the crematorium and $7,000 for the telephone.

Total expenses were $589,000.

Revenues for last year were $519,000, which includes $364,000 in crematorium fees, $111,000 in cemetery services and $44,000 in sale of cemetery lots.

While the cemetery revenues have stayed roughly the same, crematorium revenue has increased steadily. In 2016, the town collected $299,000 in crematorium fees. That went up to $352,000 in 2016 and rose to $364,000 last year.

“We’ve been doing pretty good,” Watkins said.

But not enough to make the operation self-sustaining.

“We did a general fund transfer of $50,000. Every year we’ve had to do that,” she said.

Last week, at a contentious Town Board meeting, a union member told the board that the town “isn’t losing money” on the cemetery. That statement was made to fight a change in staffing that could save the cemetery $10,000 a year.

Union members argued that the savings were not worth forcing one employee to work alone every Saturday.

Funeral home directors later weighed in, saying that waiting until Monday for cremations was usually not a problem.

But the discussion did not include the financial difficulties of the operation. While some of the cost is for maintaining the town’s cemetery, the crematorium is used by almost all funeral homes in Washington County, Warren County and northern Saratoga County. The closest crematorium other than the town’s is in Troy.

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You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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reporter - Health care, Moreau, Queensbury, South Glens Falls

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