Birmingham city commissioners continued to voice support for Birmingham's Greenwood Cemetery offering payment plans on the purchase of cemetery plots at their meeting on Monday, January 14, a continuation of a previous discussion, and directed staff and the city to have a discussion with the vendor about escrowing funds and how they can monitor the contract.
City clerk J. Cherilynn Mynsberge said that the city had recommended to phase out payment plans on plots. The city itself does not offer payment plans, but it is an option offered through a second party contractor. Payment plans for the purchase of cemetery plots are currently being utilized by 15 customers for the purchase of fewer than 30 plots in the cemetery, located off Oak Street in Birmingham.
Commissioners expressed concern about city funds being held by a second-party contractor, but Mynsberge said it was done for bookkeeping expediency.
“If we changed, our bookkeeping would be difficult, and we'd have to start all over. We recommend for remittance to stay as it is and monitor it,” she said.
“We typically do not have contractors hold onto city money for years,” commissioner Stuart Sherman said.
“Just for the amount of money, for the convenience factor, the bookkeeping – as an administrative process, it's more work,” said city manager Joe Valentine. “If sales increase, it could change.”
Sherman indicated he'd like to speak with the city's finance department for clarification.
Commissioners postponed a final decision, directing staff and the city to discuss how to escrow the payment plan funds and to monitor payment plan contracts, and if it is needed, they could have further discussions.