The Missouri Senate has approved a plan to protect abandoned family cemeteries.
The bill sent to the House lets counties establish small property taxes to create a county cemetery maintenance trust fund. Sponsor Wes Shoemeyer of Clarence says our ancestors deserve better treatment than they sometimes get. “There’s a world of history out there,” he says.
But he says cemeteries, especially family cemeteries, often fall into disrepair when descendants move away, leaving cemeteries to become overgown….or trampled by livestock…..or damaged by time, weather, and even vandals.
Shoemeyer knows any kind of property tax increase–even a small one–might be hard to pass. He hopes historical societies and genealogical groups would spearhead efforts in the counties.
He says it is important for state lawmakers to act on their own because he’s never heard of anyone getting up out of a grave, saying “mow me,” and he says he’s never seen a lobbyist working on behalf of forgotten cemeteries.
Shoemeyer says it will take an active, involved individual to make the program work at the local level—if the proposal wins final approval from the legislature.