to disapprove of the North Carolina Board of Funeral Service’s petition to increase its fees on funeral directors and licensees in the state passed unanimously in the state House of Representatives this week.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Sarah Stevens, R-Surry and Wilkes Counties, follows a state audit last May which found that funeral home inspectors were not adequately monitoring and following up on funeral facilities with deficiencies. As much as eight years had gone by between inspections of some facilities, where 2 and 3 year inspection cycles are the norm.
In response to the findings of the audit, the Board proposed to increase fees—as much as 87 percent— on the state’s 751 licensed funeral establishments and 110 crematories, to cover the cost of hiring a fourth inspector.
But the audit and the Board’s own financial documents showed that the Board had been misspending money.
As Stevens told the House Regulatory Reform Committee on Wednesday, the Board had a lot of money in reserve and bought a $1 million office suite which she called an “over-commitment.”
“They can do some refinancing,” Stevens said, “and we were just opposed to allowing them to expand the fee.”
She added that although the fee had not increased in a long time, the Board has more than enough money to operate and it would be inappropriate to increase for the purpose of paying off the condo, when the Board could have rented or leased another facility.
“This was the pathway for the funeral directors to object,” Stevens said.