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VOLCANO COMMUNITY SERVICES DISTRICT

VOLCANO CEMETERY

Authority for Review

Grand Jury jurisdiction provided by Penal Code Section 933.5.

Background

Complaint received by the Grand Jury claimed "the cemetery in Volcano is a public cemetery not private . . . people have been told the cemetery is full . . . there is no procedure for acquiring a plot . . . there is no price policy so all can be treated the same."

Method of Review

Interviews with one director of the District
Interview with Treasurer for Volcano Community Association
Review of cemetery ownership documents, assessor's maps, County tax rolls and legal opinion letters
Review of applicable California Codes (see Appendix)
On-site visit

Findings

A deed was recorded in 1981 transferring the Volcano Cemetery (historically known as the Methodist Church, Parsonage and Cemetery) to the Volcano Community Services District. The District has managed the Cemetery since that time.

In 1991, the Directors of the District asked the Board of Supervisors to adopt a resolution authorizing the District to operate the Cemetery. County Counsel's opinion was that the District lacked the legal authority to operate a cemetery. A public cemetery may only be lawfully operated by a county, city, public cemetery district, or fraternal organizations. The Board of Supervisors did not adopt the resolution.

In March 1993, the District sent a letter to all Volcano residents stating that it was in the process of closing the cemetery to operate it as a park. This letter requested a written response from those with prior arrangements for burial there. The letter also stated a donation to maintain the park would "be accepted" at the "time of usage." Donations were to be paid to the Volcano Community Association Cemetery Fund.

During our November 1996 interview with a director of the Volcano Community Service District, the Director stated that the District had mandated the cemetery to be a "memorial park" with an occasional burial. Only one person has been buried in the cemetery in the last six years.

The Volcano Community Association, a volunteer organization separate from the Volcano Community Service District, handles all donations to the community including those for burial plots.

An effort to map available plots at the cemetery has been underway for the past three years. There are 283 identified burials and it is believed that about 20 plots will be available.

Conclusions

The Volcano Community Service District can own and maintain the Cemetery but cannot operate it as a cemetery because the District is not a city, county or public cemetery district.

Sales of plots to the public have been restricted because there are no procedures for the selection and purchase of available plots.

There should be a fair and equitable procedure for members of the community who desire burial in the Cemetery to apply for and purchase available plots.

Sales of plots cannot realistically begin until the mapping of the Cemetery is completed.

Recommendations

Complete the map showing the location and number of plots available.

Price all available plots comparable to those in surrounding communities.

Establish a procedure for the public selection and purchase of available plots.

That the Board of Supervisors and District adopt one of County Counsel's recommendations for the operation of the Cemetery as set forth in his letter dated September 17, 1991:

Response Required

The Amador County Grand Jury requests the County Board of Supervisors and Volcano Community Service District respond within 90 days as required by Penal Code Section 933(c).
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