HAMILTON, Mont. - Ravalli County's three funeral homes are seeing a massive increase in requests for indigent burials or cremations.
Local morticians said 20 years ago, they would ask the county for help in reimbursements for final expenses about once every three years. Now, they said at least once a month, one funeral home or the other, has had to ask for funding to help offset costs.
Morticians met with commissioners, who approved expenditures of $2,400 for two people who died recently as indigents in Ravalli County. That only covers part of the costs, and funeral homes are absorbing at least part of the difference.
The most basic expense for final services is about $1,800.
Morticians attribute the increase to a growing population and an economy that is leaving more and more people destitute when they die.
"There is a segment of our community that is barely getting by," said mortician Tom Grymes, of Daly-Leach Chapel and Crematory, in Hamilton. "And that's reinforced this week by the passing of the lady that had been evicted from her home, and it appears, died of exposure for lack of a place to stay."
Commissioners asked for all three Bitterroot funeral homes to provide an information packet of what families need to prove they are indigent.
The funeral homes provided that information and commissioners are reviewing it.