Ivy Hill, not your average cemetery. This declaration is the summation of the mission statement for Ivy Hill Cemetery. We do not wish to be your average anything. Our goal is to be better then average in all things. We are committed to this goal, and we are working, and will continue to work, to make that a reality. 2006 marked the 150th anniversary for Ivy Hill and we saw no reason to change Ivy Hill's commitment to our community.
We have made significant improvements to the infrastructure and overall appearance of the cemetery over the last several years but there is so much more that needs to be done. We feel that, at the same time, we have also been able to improve the level of service to you, our families, as well as to the funeral homes and the memorial and monument providers. Our goal, as always, is to continue to add to and improve the level of our services while trying to continue the work on the aging infrastructure.
We still need to be replacing and enhancing the water distribution system, storm water drainage system, major road repairs and paving need to be done. But we have greatly updated and expanded our computer system. We now have most of the cemetery's records in a computerized data base and are adding new and updated information to the data base. With assistance from the new Ivy Hill Cemetery Historical Preservation Society this has come a long way and now you can see some of this, such as information on who is here at the cemetery for example, online with other features being added all the time.
We have, for years, been attempting to set aside funds for care from the sale of interment spaces in excess of the 10% that would be required under the laws of Virginia. Since the inception of the cemetery provided care, Ivy Hill has always placed these funds into very conservative investments and bonds. This very prudent policy has always been safe but its growth was limited by its very nature. Although at this time, this limited growth is now no growth.
In addition to placing funds in excess of what would be required we had set up two additional diversified funds and had been trying to add new funding from all of our revenue sources to these accounts. But there is no excess, it became necessary some time ago to use all of the funds with the declining real as well as investment income to keep up with the drastically increasing costs. When conditions change, if they ever change, we will hopefully get back to once again being able to add from these sources to those funds.
The economic conditions of the last several years, not to mention this year, well know to everyone, have been very hard on the cemetery. We had not increased our fees during a good part of this time but our operating costs have increased and revenue has decreased. We faced the unpleasant reality that we had to make major fee adjustments. In 2008 adding to this problem, the City controlled their budget by cutting services, that just added additional havoc to our budget since we now have to pay someone for those services.
We find we can no longer be concerned about what others fees might be. We need to set up fee structures based entirely on the needs of this historic cemetery and its future. Having said that we did not increase our fees for 2009 or 2010and we were going to try and do that gain for 2011 but as of May 1, 2011 that has got to change and in a big way. Why are we telling you all of this? We want you to know that our fees provide for a great deal more than just opening and closing a grave, or installing a marker, monument or memorial. There is substantial overhead in operating this old historical Cemetery and the costs are just growing all the time. The fees for services have to reflect this painful reality.
We want our families to know that we have a commitment to them that is forever and that we are doing what we can to operate today while still making sure that tomorrow is also funded. Remember one very important fact, Ivy Hill is not, and never wants to be, your average cemetery. We will do whatever we can to keep it that way even with this economic collapse. It won’t last forever but Ivy Hill will and we now have the Ivy Hill Cemetery Historical Preservation Society to help us make sure.