City considers taking over historic local cemetery

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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) The Temple City Council is considering options for the future of Hillcrest Cemetery whose board says the current level of funding isn’t enough to cover the cost of operations.

(Photo by Alex Cano)

Nearly 18,000 graves fill the historic 70-acre cemetery, some dating back to the 1870s.

"There are a lot of important figures for the city of Temple like from the Scott &White hospital that are buried there. The heritage of Hillcrest cemetery means a lot for the city of Temple and it would be a shame for it to fall into disrepair," Temple Mayor Timothy Davis said.

Since 1884, the cemetery has been owned and operated by a not-for-profit cemetery association, Temple Cemetery Company, and is overseen by volunteer trustees.

In 2011 the city began to help the cemetery, at first contributing $20,000 a year, an amount that has grown to $50,000.

But during a meeting several months ago, cemetery board members told city staffers that the current level of funding isn’t enough to sustain operations and asked the city to consider raising the annual contribution to $100,000 or to take over ownership and maintenance of the cemetery.

City staff and council members met to discuss options on Dec. 20 and the discussion will continue next month.

If the city does take over, the transfer could happen as early as April.