Residents ask Opp council to maintain 3 cemeteries inside city limits, again

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Residents in Opp on Thursday night asked Mayor Becky Bracke and the city council if they could help maintain three cemeteries in the city.

During the previous administration, then-Mayor John Bartholomew and City Clerk Connie Smith both said they consulted with the state attorney general’s office and it is against the law for the city to cut private cemeteries, as it would be for them to a cut a person’s private yard.

During a workshop, Marvin McCollough told the council that for years the city maintained the Hickory Grove Cemetery, Cool Springs Cemetery and a cemetery in District 4.

Bracke said the cemetery would possibly have to be deeded to the city.

Audience members said that they felt that could be done – at least at the Hickory Grove Cemetery.

It was brought up that the city had always cut the grass in the cemetery until the last administration.

Bracke told them that she would check into it.

According to Star-News archives, Smith provided a 2010 Attorney General opinion in which then-AG Troy King concluded that “maintenance of a church cemetery by a county commission would violate section 94 of article IV of the Recompiled Constitution of Alabama.” Section 94 prohibits spending public funds for private purposes.

Late last year, James Hudson provided information he had received from Rep. Mike Jones’ office.

In the memo from Jones’ office, it cites section 94 of the Constitution of Alabama, but states that the courts have held that the prohibition in 94 is not absolute.

Additionally, information from Jones’ office cites Alabama code, “Any incorporated city or town having within its corporate limits an ancient family cemetery or burial ground or owning a cemetery or burial ground may make and enter into a contract with any interested party or parties obligating and binding the city or town to forever protect, maintain and properly care for such cemetery or burial ground or for graves of individuals in the cemeteries or burial grounds owned by such city or town, upon terms and conditions as may be agreed upon and for such compensation as it may see fit to accept.”

Additionally, Jones’ office says that there is a test as part of Section 94 that it would be a direct benefit to general character of the public.