Marion Cieslik, chairman of the Grantville Cemetery Trust, has concerns about the trust's funds.
Cieslik voiced these concerns at the Grantville City Council's work session on Monday, Oct. 11.
After the construction of the cemetery retaining wall in 2018, the trust fund has approximately $5,000 left, he said, which is not enough to repair damaged graves and manage overgrown trees on the individual plots.
According to Grantville's Code of Ordinances, it is the family's responsibility to maintain the plot of a loved one if the grave is damaged or has overgrowth.
But Cieslik questioned who should maintain the plots of people without any living family in the area.
That's where the cemetery trust should step in, he said.
The retaining wall cost more than $79,000, said Grantville City Manager Al Grieshaber, and the money was transferred to the city by Donald Olmstead, who was a trustee, because he "felt like he had reached the age where he could no longer be responsible for the monies. He had done a good job collecting them, but since he was the only trustee, he felt the city could better handle the monies."
After the transfer, Mayor Doug Jewell, Councilmember Ruby Hines, Rodney Mowery, Cieslik and Ann Tucker were appointed as trustees.
Cieslik said the city of Grantville is required to put money into the trust fund, which he claims hasn't happened.
Chapter 35, Article II, Section 35-49 of Grantville's Code of Ordinances states, "It be appropriated as a lien item in each year's fiscal budget that four-tenths of one mill of property tax be allocated to the cemetery trust fund. The allocation may never exceed $5,000 in any fiscal year."
However, Grieshaber said the city pays a contractor $1,100 per cutting of the grass to maintain the cemetery, and the total payments for that maintenance exceed the $5,000 the city is required to put into the trust fund.
The payments for the lawn care, Grieshaber said, serve in place of depositing money into the fund.
"The cemetery trust fund does not have sufficient amounts of money to maintain the Grantville Cemetery in a proper manner," he said.
That's something Cieslik agrees with.
"What the cemetery trust needs to do right now is keep the integrity of what the trust is supposed to do – and that's take care of the cemetery," Cieslik said. "We need our ($79,000) back."
According to Cieslik, money from the sale of plots in the cemetery should be added to the cemetery trust, however, Grieshaber said money from the sales goes into the city's general fund.
Cieslik said the cemetery trust needs funds to hire a specialist with a ground-penetrating radar to confirm the possibility of buried Confederate soldiers and slaves in two different sections of the cemetery.
Grieshaber recommended the cemetery trust use donations and fundraising to refill its bank account. The initial money for the trust was gathered through donations and fundraising, he said. Some small donations from $50-$200 have been given to the fund since 2018, and as of May 2020, the fund has accrued more than $100 in interest.
"The money was really accumulated through donations to the cemetery trust – and I'm talking about the $79,000," Grieshaber said.