Oxford City Manager Doug Elliott said the Oxford Cemetery Board approached the city 12 years ago to inform officials that the board was running deficits and were unsure of how much longer it could operate.
“To make a long story short, they were able to continue operations until this past November,” Elliott said. “They were having continued financial difficulties, and also their cemetery manager was planning to retire at the end of November. For those two reasons, they thought it was the time to basically dissolve and turn the cemetery over to the city.”
Elliott said the cemetery’s accounts showed about $30,000 in losses in 2021, after drawing in around $70,000 and spending $100,000 on operations.
Unlike the Oxford Cemetery Board, Elliott said the city will forgo a full-time cemetery manager, which will significantly reduce operation costs and reduce the city’s losses. But, Elliott said, sometimes losing money on a cemetery is just an aspect of the law.
“You don’t always meet your expenditures by the selling of [cemetery] lots; it’s just one of the responsibilities that cities undergo when they have cemeteries,” Elliott said. “We do our best to see if we can make our revenues equal our expenditures, but typically that’s not the case.”
The Oxford Cemetery, which is located off Oxford-Millville Road, won’t be the city’s first foray into the industry; it already operates Woodside Cemetery — a comparatively much smaller burial ground off of Chestnut Street.
Deahl said the city’s operation of that site makes him confident that the Oxford Cemetery will continue running smoothly, adding, “I think the people who have family members buried there will be pleased with the operation of the cemetery in the years to come.”