Reynoldsburg City Council's finance committee has approved a proposal to create a policy regarding the burial of indigent persons.

Reynoldsburg City Council's finance committee has approved a proposal to create a policy regarding the burial of indigent persons.

The first reading of the legislation was heard during council's Feb. 28 meeting.

Mayor Brad McCloud said according to a provision in the Ohio Revised Code, municipalities are required to provide burial expenses for indigent persons who die within their city limits.

Reynoldsburg has seen a slight increase in the number of requests for indigent burials, and each time it was a "re-create the wheel" situation as to how the city would deal with the issue, McCloud said.

In an attempt to streamline the process, he said a decision was made to create an official policy on the matter. That policy was drafted by City Attorney Jed Hood and City Auditor Richard Harris.

"In the last six years, (we had) maybe one or two of these people calling on this, but in the last 18 months, we've had an influx where we're getting one every couple of months," Harris said. "People would call the mayor, or my office, or the city attorney's office, or the council office and get one story or another, so that's the reason for the policy.

"The city has never had anything in writing on the issue, so to have a policy in place on it would put everyone on the same page," he said.

The proposed policy requires cremation services only. In order to receive indigent burial funds from the city, an application would have to be filed with the mayor's office. The application would then be reviewed and a decision made as to eligibility.

If the deceased did not have assets exceeding $600 at the time of his or her death, the city would agree to pay for cremation services; that payment would be made directly to any licensed funeral home which has taken possession of the deceased's remains.

Councilman Barth Cotner, owner of the Cotner Funeral Home in Reynoldsburg, said putting the policy in place is something the city needs to do. Cotner said he will abstain from voting on the legislation.

"The city needs a formal policy on this to make sure when that situation occurs, there's a consistency there," Cotner said. "That requirement is put on cities and municipalities. They don't have a choice; the state has mandated that you must pay for the disposition of a person's body."

Cotner said the only reason cremation is the method chosen is because it typically is less expensive than traditional burials.

He said the set dollar amount the city is willing to pay is $600 and that is much less than funeral homes typically charge for funeral services.

Cotner said most cities will pay around $600 for the cremation of indigent persons.

Council President Doug Joseph asked if the matter could ever become a major budgetary issue and Harris said no.

"It hasn't been a problem for us or the city of Columbus, and they only get a handful of these a year, so even for them it hasn't been a big thing," Harris said. "Being indigent, you have to have assets worth less than $600, and I don't think there's a lot of those people out there."