County Will Continue To Get Dirt Cheap Burial Services For The Indigent Dead

The county will continue to bury the dispossessed who die within its 20,105-square mile confines at Samaritan Cemetery, and personnel employed by Mt. View Mortuary and Cemetery will provide full interment services for those dead over the next five years at the bargain basement rate of $78,172.92.
Samaritan Park, also known as Samaritan Cemetery, is county-owned property located adjacent to Mt. View Cemetery in San Bernardino, across Highland Avenue from St. Bernardino Medical Center. On December 1, 1986 the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved a contractual arrangement between the county and Mt. View Cemetery of San Bernardino for full interment and grounds maintenance services at Samaritan Park. That entailed a one-year contract for the period July 1, 1986 through June 30, 1987, to be renewed annually by mutual consent of the parties.
Samaritan Cemetery is used exclusively for the burial of the unclaimed and indigent deceased. The total annual compensation under the contract at that time was $7,733.92. Services under the contract have continued annually without an increase in the contract amount. On May 1, 2019, Mt. View Cemetery notified the county it would cease providing services under the contract effective June 30, 2019, but would be willing to negotiate a new contract.
The county coroner has the responsibility to bury unclaimed and indigent deceased. Welfare and Institutions Code section 17009 states the board of supervisors may provide for the burial or cremation of the indigent dead and the maintenance of their graves
In San Bernardino County, the sheriff’s office is merged with that of the coroner.
While Mt. View Cemetery continued to provide interment services to date without interruption, the parties engaged in contract negotiations beginning in May 2019. The last payment made to Mt. View Cemetery compensated for services provided for the period of July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.
During the negotiations, Mt. View Cemetery made it clear that it would not agree to a number of elements that normally are contained in the county’s contract template and are routinely inserted into the county’s contracts such as language in section C.9 pertaining to restriction in a standard services contract; C.17 relating to employment discrimination; C.18 pertaining to environmental requirements; C.22 pertaining to legality; C.36 pertaining to subcontracting; C.42 pertaining to employing former county administrative officials; and C.43 relating to the disclosure of criminal and civil procedures.
As a contractor under the terms of the just-settled upon contract, Mt. View Cemetery is not legally bound to follow county policies, though it is still subject to all applicable local, state and federal laws, and it is legally obligated to follow all local, state and federal laws regarding employment discrimination, regardless of whether that requirement is stated in the contract. Mt. View Cemetery is not legally bound to follow the county’s policy touching on the reporting of environmentally preferable purchases. Mt. View Cemetery may subcontract its obligations without obtaining the prior written consent of the county. Regardless of whether a subcontract occurs, Mt. View Cemetery is bound by the terms of its contract with the county, and subject to liability for any failure to comply with the terms of the contract, such as they are. The county has retained the right to terminate the contract for purposes it deems appropriate. Mt. View Cemetery will not be obligated to report former county administrative officials in its employ. Mt. View Cemetery is nonetheless bound by sections C.19 and C.20 of the contract which contain prohibitions against improper influence and improper consideration. Mt. View Cemetery will not be obligated to provide information regarding criminal charges against employees, or Mt. View Cemetery’s involvement in civil legal proceedings. The county, if necessary, must obtain this information from other sources. The county nevertheless retains the right to terminate the contract for convenience or cause.
In a report to the board of supervisors dated October 22, Terry Thompson, the county’s director of real estate services, and Sheriff/Coroner John McMahon acknowledged that Mt. View Cemetery essentially has the county over a barrel as it is the only entity willing to run Samaritan Cemetery at an economical rate, and they said for that reason the county should enter into the contract.
“A new contract is recommended as the full interment services provided by Mt. View Cemetery are essential to the county,” Thompson and McMahon stated. “Since 1986, Mt. View Cemetery has created records of the plot location of each burial. It is licensed to provide interment services, and is in a unique position to provide the full interment services, including disinterment, necessary to fulfill the county’s legal obligation.”
The total contract cost with SCI California Funeral Services, Inc., doing business as Mt. View Mortuary & Cemetery, for full interment services at the county-owned Samaritan Park is $78,172.92, for the five-year period of July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2024. An amount not to exceed $10,000 is included in the contract for enhancement services related to the interment and record keeping processes. The annual costs are $13,100 for 2019-2020, $13,362 for 2020-2021, $13,629.24 for 2021-2022, $13,901.82 for 2022-2023, and $14,179.86 for 2023-24.

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