JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When some people in Jacksonville can't afford to pay for their eternal rest, it comes out of your pocket.
Robert Chambliss visits his wife's gravesite everyday and has for the last six months since she passed away. "We didn't expect it." He paid more than 10 thousand dollars in funeral costs. "You don't know it's coming. You can't plan for it," said Chambliss.
He had to borrow the money, but not everyone has that luxury. When they can't pay, we have too. Johnnetta Moore, with the city's indigent burial program, says they're seeing more and more people who can't pay for their loved ones final costs. "The economy. People are out of work," said Moore.
So instead, taxpayers are footing the bill and paying for people to be cremated. Action News has learned between October of last year and July of this year, 306 people have been cremated on our dollar. That totals almost 187 thousand dollars in just nine months. Moore says they plan for it, but they're expecting to even more people coming in for help. "We do expect cremation to continue to rise based on the economy," said Moore.
Robert says while he usually thinks governments overcharge people, this is different. This is someone's life and he's happy to help pay for it. "I know people don't have an alternative, someone has to take care of them, and it's something taxpayers have to do," said Chambliss.
This program is income based. If someone is cremated and the ashes aren't claimed after 120 days, they are spread in a garden on the city's northside.