Chancellor of Justice: Cemetery financing requires better regulation

The Chancellor of Justice has sent a memorandum to the Regional Minister pointing out that the regulation of cemetery financing in the Cemeteries Act is inadequate. 

Issues related to cemeteries were not regulated at the level of the state until the beginning of 2012; everything was previously organised by local authorities. The Cemeteries Act which entered into force at the beginning of last year does regulate cemeteries but fails to give a clear stipulation of how they should be financed. The practices of local authorities in this area remain varied. Analysing the legislation of local authorities reveals that some cover the general administration expenses of cemeteries fully from their own budgets, but others demand that users of cemetery plots help finance these expenses. Some local authorities have therefore established fees that people must pay to obtain and use plots. In some cases these fees are as high as 130 euros per plot.

Having analysed the preparatory materials of the Cemeteries Act, the Chancellor of Justice came to the conclusion that the legislator’s intention was that plots be granted free of charge and that the general expenses of cemeteries be covered from the budgets of local authorities. This is why the Cemeteries Act did not give local authorities the option of establishing such fees. The Chancellor of Justice pointed out in his memorandum to the Regional Minister that despite the lack of relevant authorisation, many local authorities have established fees for the granting of plots and the money thus raised is used to finance the maintenance of cemeteries (keeping them in order and paying the wages of guards). In the memorandum the Chancellor of Justice asked the minister to analyse the situation and consider whether local authorities should be given the right to establish fees in order to finance the management of cemeteries, and to start preparing a relevant draft act if necessary.

If the Regional Minister comes to the conclusion that the Cemeteries Act does not require amendment in regard to cemetery financing, the Chancellor of Justice will ask the minister to explain to local authorities that they may not establish fees for the financing of the general maintenance of cemeteries. However, this does not exclude cemetery managers from charging users for specific services provided to them (e.g. annual maintenance of certain plots).