Pauper burials happen when someone dies and the deceased or his family have no funds. In those cases, it falls upon the county to foot the bill, if certain requirements are met.
Senate Bill 83, sponsored by state Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, seeks to clarify that the law allows pauper cremations as well as burials, according to the Association County Commissioners of Georgia.
Pauper cremations currently aren’t prohibited, Floyd County Coroner Barry Henderson contends. In fact, they’ve been happening in Rome for years.
“Some families prefer cremation over burial,” Henderson said.
Henderson, whose family has been in the funeral home business since 1961, said he’s seen a rise in the popularity of cremations. According to Henderson, 23 percent of Georgia interments were cremations in 2006. That number had risen to 32 percent four years later.
Noah A. Simon, Floyd County’s assistant county manager, said he supports the bill, citing the lower cost of cremations. The county paid for 49 pauper burials last year at a total cost of $36,365.42. It’s budgeted $35,000 for this year.
Officials didn’t have a breakdown of which interments were burials or cremations.
Referring to a 2006 funeral industry-sponsored survey, Henderson said the No. 1 reason people choose cremation is because of the cost.
“That is going to be a county-by-county call,” Henderson added.
The bill has passed the state Senate and is currently under consideration by the state House of Representatives.