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Union Mills Cemetery asks for help

Shown is president of the Union Mills Cemetery Association Howard Ferguson who attended the Broadalbin Town Board's meeting on Tuesday asking the town for assistance with funding for the cemetery. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

BROADALBIN — The Union Mills Cemetery Association is in need of financial help and is seeking donations and other means of revenue to keep the cemetery operational, which includes a lot of grounds work that can get costly.

Members of the Union Mills Cemetery Association again approached the town board asking them provide financial services to help with the upkeep of the cemetery including cleaning headstones, taking down unsafe trees and mowing.

President of the Union Mills Cemetery Association, Howard Ferguson, addressed the board in December presenting to them the association’s current financial issues and asked the board if it could include the association on the town budget, however, the town had already passed its operating budget for 2020. At that meeting in December, Supervisor Sheila Perry advised Ferguson to return before the board this year before they start the 2021 budget process, in which he followed her advice and appeared before the board during Tuesday’s meeting.

“We want to keep the cemetery going,” Ferguson said. “I’m looking for some help.”

The Union Mills Cemetery Association is under state control, however they received a letter from the state telling them they do not have the funds or resources to fully support them; and the only other revenue the cemetery gets is from burials and lot sales.

They are in need of having roads in the cemetery repaired, will need a new lawn mower and a few trees the association is worried will fall soon damaging headstones.

Ferguson, in December, did ask the highway for assistance, in which they did take down some trees, but only because they were close to town roads. Highway Superintendent Eric Alley said they could not legally do work in the cemetery because it is private property, but they were able to take care of the trees because they were technically off the right-of-way and considered dangerous trees. Alley said the highway department would need approval from the town board to do work on private property. Perry said however, the town’s insurance would not allow it.

Since the highway department can’t do any work on private properties, Ferguson is asking the board to include them in the budget for about $2,000 to help cover costs of services for the cemetery.

“We are trying to do to keep the cemetery going, but it’s a harder situation. You depend on people dying, that’s not very nice, but that’s what keeps the cemetery going, and our costs keep going up,” Ferguson said.

Perry said funding for outside appropriations is not very big and would only be able to give the association so much in funds. She said the Broadalbin-Mayfield Rural Cemetery has also recently asked the board for funding.

“All of a sudden to have both cemeteries come to us and ask — you know what kind of fiscal position we’re in and COVID has only made it very much worse — I think our heart is ‘we really want to help you,’ but we don’t want to have to raise taxes to do it,” Perry said.

She asked them to provide the town board with documentation showing what their finances are and they’ll go from there.

The association will be providing the town a copy of an audit done by the state three years ago.

“No cemetery is doing good,” Ferguson added.

Anyone who would like to make donations to the Union Mills Cemetery Association can do so by making donation contributions to the associations’s secretary/treasurer Milinda Girard at 550 County Highway 123, Mayfield, NY 12117.

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