ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) More than 50 local vets have been buried at the Roswell Veteran’s Cemetery since July, when it officially opened. A majority are entombed inside two cremation walls.
The walls were placed at the site for people who couldn’t afford to be buried in the ground.
“The agreement with the city was every time we put somebody in these walls there would be no charge,” said Veteran Bert Eldrigde.
But veterans say that agreement hasn’t held strong.
“Just this week we put one in and the mortuary called me and said they won’t let me set up a service because they want $300,” said Eldridge.
Eldridge says almost every time he’s tried to entomb a vet in the wall the city goes back on its word and charges the veterans $300.
“It’s just a crime that every time we bring somebody over here we have to have a fight with them,” he said.
Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh says there was a pricing miscommunication between his office and the cemetery and that’s why the veterans were being charged.
“Still sorting it out. This is new. This is a new facility. New procedures,” said Kintigh.
He says it’s free to put ashes inside the wall because the city doesn’t have to do any work, but it’s not free if the city has to provide any extra services.
“The bill that was provided was meant to be for the tent and chairs that were provided by the city,” said Kintigh.
But Eldridge says a majority of the services didn’t require tents or chairs and those extra charges aren’t outlined in their agreement.
“I just wish we could go along peacefully about this the way it was intended to be and take care of our veterans that don’t have money,” said Eldridge.
The Mayor says most of the fees for the cremation wall have been waived or paid back to the veterans.
He’s suspended all veteran burial charges until the city figures out the correct prices for each service.
Eldridge says if things don’t get sorted out soon he intends to sue the city.