Temple: City agrees to take over historic Hillcrest Cemetery

TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) An historic Central Texas cemetery has a new future thanks to a city council vote Thursday night in Temple.

(Photo by Alex Cano)

City council members voted unanimously to take over Hillcrest Cemetery after months of uncertainty and growing financial troubles.

“The cemetery will be taken care of for now on long as the city is in existence,” said Brenda Coley, president of Hillcrest Cemetery Association.

The existence of the cemetery – with nearly 18,000 graves – was in question. Since 2011, the city has been giving money to the cemetery. It was an amount that grew to the tune of $50,000 in recent years.

But the cemetery, operated by the Temple Cemetery Company – says it could not operate in the black.

"Right now it takes like $120,000 to run the cemetery and we just have no funds. We have been relying on our trust fund account and we have to pull money out of that every month and it's not going to last much longer,” Coley said.

Last year, KWTX told you about the frustration surrounding weeds and overgrown grass on tombstones.

Coley says there are other problems.

"Our roads are in bad shape, the water system is in bad shape and our drainage system. Our drainage system needs completely re-doing,” she said.

By taking over the cemetery, the city also plans to give almost $50,000 annually for landscaping of the grounds and close to $29,000 for a grave mapping software.

With the vote Thursday night, the historic cemetery keeps its operations and gates open.

The takeover is expected to happen May 1.