By Michael Pope
There's only two things you can count on in this world: death and taxes. Both are set to collide in the coming weeks as the Alexandria City Council considers a plan suggested by the Alexandria Police Department to start charging funeral homes for use of off-duty officers used in funeral processions.
"We'd have to treat it as kind of a cash advance, just to let people know that it's available, that there is a charge, that we're not trying to make a profit on the charge, of course," says Everly Wheatley Funeral Home director Dean Marnell. "But that there is this charge and it's payable to the city."
The minimum fee would be $655 for the first hour and a half and $400 for each additional hour. Assuming the number of funeral escorts remains constant, the new fee would generate about $87,000.
"From a funeral director's standpoint, and being that I live in Alexandria, I would oppose the charge," he says. "I just think it's goodwill for the community, it's safety, and it's just one of those good services that the city can provide."
Marnell says he's talking to other funeral directors about writing a letter to the city arguing against the new charge.