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County enacts burial policy

A new policy is in place for Douglas County's burial allowance for indigent residents.

The Douglas County Board of Commissioners adopted the new policy at its regular board meeting, which took place Tuesday evening.

If it's determined that a person does not leave sufficient means to defray the necessary expenses of burial, nor if any relative has the sufficient means to procure burial, the Douglas County Board will ensure that financial arrangements are made to ensure a proper burial.

The new part of the policy states that the county will pay a flat rate of $3,200 for traditional burial and cremation and that the funds will be paid directly to the funeral home.

Mike Woods, Douglas County Social Services director, explained to the commissioners that in the past, the county has paid up to $4,200 for burial costs, but that the county has come to an agreement with local funeral home directors for the flat rate of $3,200.

"This is a good compromise," Woods told the commissioners. "Paying the flat rate of $3,200 just makes it simpler for everyone."

The rate includes professional services associated with a traditional burial and cremation.

The policy also states that the funeral home may charge miscellaneous expenses such as memorial cards, register books, acknowledge cards, flowers, music and more to the deceased person's family.

A county-paid burial cannot exceed the amount adopted by the Douglas County Board.

Woods also explained that assets of the deceased person must be applied toward the funeral expense first and that items such as death benefits payable from Social Security, Veterans Administration allowance, payroll benefits or insurance policies would apply.

Board Chair Bev Bales asked if Douglas County's policy is comparable to other counties in the area.

Woods replied that Douglas County's policy is very similar to the policy in Todd County.

He explained that the funeral director in Osakis, Dana Hetland, brought the Todd County policy to Douglas County and thought it might be something the county would consider.

Woods also noted that Todd County is trying the new policy on a one-year trial basis and that he recommended Douglas County do the same thing.

The board approved the policy on a one-year trial basis.