Rifle to raise burial rates for Rose Hill Cemetery | PostIndependent.com

Rifle to raise burial rates for Rose Hill Cemetery

David Lowery, sexton for Rifle's Rose Hill Cemetery, mows near headstones Wednesday morning.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Rose Hill Cemetery in Rifle is pleasantly shaded by tall elm trees and has a picturesque view of the Roan Plateau. Caretakers each week spend about 20 hours mowing and another 40 hours string trimming its grounds.

When the city adopted its 2023 budget, it set aside a cool $293,629 for the cemetery’s perpetual care alone.

Rifle Parks and Recreation Director Austin Rickstrew last week reported that more and more people residing outside of the local area code continue to request full burials and grave spaces at this well-kept cemetery.

The increased demand has not only prompted the city to consider raising burial rates in order to help offset operational costs, it’s currently looking to add about 218 new plots to an existing 85 vacant ones.

“We really, really have a well-maintained cemetery,” Rickstrew told the Citizen Telegram on Monday. “That’s what draws people in.”

Rows of elm trees line a pathway at Rifle’s Rose Hill Cemetery on Wednesday morning.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Rifle has for years now charged its residents $630 for adult and $315 for infant grave spaces, and another $575 for perpetual care of those sites. Rifle City Council’s approval of the new fee structure’s first reading on April 5 means rates are likely jump to $800 for adult- and $400 for infant-burials, and another $800 for perpetual care.

When it comes to non-resident burials, the city typically charges double for adult and infant plots. This means non-resident burials also now cost $1,600 for adults and $800 for infants, with another $1,600 for perpetual care.

The city is also raising rates for cremation, mausoleum and columbarium services, as well as weekend and holiday burials.

Rose Hill Cemetery Sexton David Lowery said on Tuesday the cemetery averages 30 burials each year, of which 12 are full burials and the rest are typically for cremains.

“We seem to be having more of those that are from out of the area,” he said.

Budget numbers show, for this year, the city estimates making $11,681 in projected cemetery revenue. With the combination of increased burial fees and expansion efforts, “Adjusting all fees and increasing charges for non-81650 patrons will increase revenue,” city documents state.

Rickstrew said the city is trying to raise revenue for the cemetery because current burial and perpetual care rates “are not covering the maintenance costs very well.”

Rifle’s current burial rates are relatively comparable to neighboring cemeteries. New Castle’s Highland Cemetery currently charges $800 for resident burials and $1,600 for nonresidents. 

Sexton David Lowery walks toward a mower at Rifle’s Rose Hill Cemetery on Wednesday morning.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Silt’s Skyline Cemetery charges a $400 purchase price of a resident cemetery plot but another $375 for the burial itself and $400 for perpetual care. Nonresidents are charged $500 for the plot itself, then $375 for the full burial and $500 for perpetual care.

At Glenwood Springs’ Rosebud Cemetery — which is pretty much plotted out at this point — the city charges $350 per burial and another $500 for perpetual care.

“I know we’re one of the cheapest ones in the area,” Lowery said. “We’re actually losing money on some of that stuff.”

Rose Hill itself has headstones that date back to the 1890s — some of which actually predate the official creation of the cemetery in 1897. Abram Maxfield, the founder of Rifle, was the first person to be buried at Rose Hill, which has since then interred between 4,000-5,000 people.

The city plans to pass the second reading of the cemetery’s fee structure on April 19.


Last week, Rifle City Council also unanimously decided to purchase back two cemetery spaces from a man named Jerry Hill. Hill had the spaces conveyed to him on May 3, 2019 from James Hill, who had purchased the two spaces on July 10, 1989.
The cemetery is always in need of more plots, city staff said in a memo, which is why City Council was advised to purchase the two spaces back for the original price of $500.

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