This past fall, Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge David M. Gormley ruled the Village of Galena is responsible for the care and maintenance of Galena Cemetery.
This ended a year-long court battle.
Galena was the plaintiff in a case filed against Berkshire Township, who had previously maintained the cemetery from 1832 until Aug. 11, 2015. Berkshire then determined “that it is not legally responsible for the cemetery it has been maintaining,” Gormley wrote in his judgment.
“Defendant Township now claims that it has no legal authority to care for and maintain the cemetery because the cemetery is located completely within the Village of Galena,” Gormley wrote.
The village filed a complaint in September 2015; and the township filed a counterclaim in December 2015.
Gormley’s decision rested on the location of the cemetery.
The Ohio Attorney General “has treated this situation as similar to one in which annexation causes a cemetery owned by a township to become part of a municipality,” Gormley continued. “When that happens, the municipality becomes the cemetery’s owner.”
Galena was incorporated as a municipality in 1920.
“The Attorney General also opined that it is irrelevant whether or not the municipal corporation wishes to accept the cemetery property,” Gormley wrote.
“Because Galena Cemetery is located in the Village of Galena, the title to, right of possession, and responsibility for the maintenance and care of Galena Cemetery is vested in the Village of Galena,” Gormley concluded.
Galena was tasked with establishing plot and burial services rates at the cemetery. Locally-owned cemeteries typically have lower burial space fees for residents of the political subdivision that owns the cemetery.
The plot fee for a Galena resident will be $200, Delaware County residents will pay $600, out-of-county residents will pay $1,200.
Plots currently paid for by Berkshire Township residents at the township rate of $200 would be honored, but township residents wishing to purchase Galena Cemetery plots in the future would pay the new non-resident rates.
A regular weekday casket burial will cost $500; the weekend and holiday burial fee is $800. Cremation burials are $200 on weekdays; $400 on weekends and holidays. Exhumations are $400 on weekdays and unavailable on weekends and holidays.
The minimum monument foundation fee is $220, or $0.75 per square-inch, whichever is greater. Foundations are installed from May through September; foundations installed from October through April are $750 or $0.90 per square-inch, whichever is greater. Military marker foundations are $175.
This story originally appeared in The Delaware Gazette.