WATERVILLE — The poor economy over the last few years may prompt the city to take control of Pine Grove Cemetery.

City councilors will discuss taking over management of the cemetery, on Grove Street, from its board of trustees when they meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

City Manager Michael Roy said the management system was set up in 1943, by an act of the state Legislature.

“I think that worked fine for years, but it’s gotten to the point where you can’t expect all-volunteer trustees to manage all aspects of the cemetery,” he said.

Roy said that while the city has been fortunate to have trustees manage the cemetery for so long, it’s been difficult the last few years because of the economy. When someone buys a cemetery lot, part of that money goes into a perpetual care account, and only the interest can be spent annually to do all the work that needs to be done at the cemetery.

 “With the economy the last four years, the earnings have been very, very reduced, so really, it’s close to breaking even or not breaking even,” he said.

The council has talked about the city taking over the cemetery management for about a year, he said. State Rep. Thomas R.W. Longstaff, a former city councilor, submitted a bill to the Legislature to abolish the cemetery’s board and transfer management to the city, Roy said.

“I think that it is important for the council to be on record to say, ‘Yes, we agree on this approach,’” Roy said.

The city’s crews can do some work at the cemetery at no cost, whereas the board of trustees must pay for it, according to Roy. Work such as mowing and maintenance would likely continue to be contracted out as it is now, but the city can do work such as repairing cemetery roads, removing trees and repairing headstones, he said.

Councilors must take three votes on the issue and may take one or two votes Tuesday.

In other matters, councilors will consider transferring $47,453 from remaining money in the 2004-05 bond to buy light poles, fixtures and other items needed to make improvements to the plaza at Head of Falls next to the Two-Cent Bridge.

Tuesday’s meeting will be preceded by an executive session to consider a tax abatement, at 6:45 p.m.

Amy Calder — 861-9247
acalder@centralmaine.com