By Max Hrenda
When faced with the cost of another pauper burial, the county’s Budget Committee couldn’t agree to foot the bill when it met Monday evening.
Carter County policy dictates that once a pauper affidavit has been approved and investigated, one of the local funeral homes will handle the burial and receive payment from the county.
Historically, $1,800 has been budgeted for the pauper burials, which average around two or three per fiscal year, and cost $600 per burial.
But commissioners resisted when County Mayor Leon Humphrey asked for another $600 from the General Fund balance to pay for the ninth pauper burial this fiscal year, which would total $5,400 since July 1, 2012.
Commissioners then asked why the number of pauper burials has increased.
“I can’t give you the answer for that,” Humphrey said. “The economy itself is a factor. All of them have filed their applications and are well within the parameters that were established by the commission.”
Humphrey elaborated on the investigative process, saying that a pauper affidavit can only be awarded if the family has no property, assets, or automobiles.
Because the lack of income suggests a lack of collectible taxes, however, Commissioner Lawrence Hodge said the county should not be liable for pauper burials.
“If they haven’t paid any county taxes, I don’t see where it’s our responsibility,” Hodge said.