Key messages

  • Cemetery trusts may fix fees and charges, or a scale of fees and charges, for products and services.
  • Class A cemetery trusts must meet financial reporting requirements.
  • Class A cemetery trusts pay a levy on their gross earnings each year.

 

  • Fee approval process

    Department policy and legislative instruments acknowledge that cemetery trusts are best placed to determine the services required by the communities they serve and the appropriate level of fees for those services. Under s. 39 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003, cemetery trusts must, when fixing fees and charges, have regard to the costs of operating and managing any public cemetery for which they are responsible, and the need to provide for the maintenance of that public cemetery in perpetuity.

    Under s.42A of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act, the department's Secretary has established the Fees and charges guidelines for Class A cemetery trusts (the guidelines). The guidelines set out the public consultation requirements Class A cemetery trusts are to undertake when seeking to adjust fees above the annual consumer price indexation (CPI) or when introducing new products and services.

    The role of the department in approving fees for cemetery services is to review applications for fee increases from cemetery trusts, in order determine that the basis for any proposed increase to fees and charges outside of CPI can be justified.

    Annual consumer price index increase

    Under s. 43 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act, all trust fees of $50 or more are increased annually in accordance with CPI, unless a trust specifically requests and provides an acceptable argument why the increase should not be applied. The CPI increase is based on the All Groups Consumer Price Index number (for Melbourne) for the current December quarter. Fees increased by CPI are effective from 1 July each year.

    Common chart of accounts

    The Common chart of accounts has been developed to enable Class A cemetery trusts to determine the direct and indirect costs associated with providing their major services, maintaining the public cemeteries under their management, and to ascertain their short, medium and long-term cash flow needs.

    Setting fees and charges

    Under s. 39 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act, a cemetery trust may fix fees and charges, or a scale of fees and charges, for its services. In fixing fees, a cemetery trust must have regard to the costs of operating and managing its public cemeteries, as well as the need to provide for the maintenance of the public cemeteries in perpetuity.

    The Department of Treasury and Finance developed the Cost recovery guidelines to clarify the government's policy principles underpinning cost-recovery arrangements.

    The Cost recovery guidelines provide a rigorous framework for use by government entities when considering, developing and reviewing user charges and regulatory fees. They ensure that cost-recovery arrangements in Victoria are transparent, efficient, effective and consistent with legislative requirements and government policy.

    Approval of fees and charges

    Under s. 40 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act, a cemetery trust must make a formal application to the department for consent to make or vary its scale of fees. A cemetery trust must submit a fee application form, signed by three trust members. It should be accompanied by costing sheets, generated from the Common chart of accounts, for each proposed fee, to justify the extent of the increases sought.

    Class A cemetery trusts are required to provide the following documents, generated through the Common chart of accounts, when submitting fee applications for departmental approval:

    • fee-setting sheet
    • service cost sheet
    • assumptions sheet.

    In addition to the costing information, Class A cemetery trusts must also provide evidence of the consultation undertaken, as per the guidelines.

    The time taken from lodgement until approval of the fees by the department is approximately 3-10 weeks, providing the department does not need additional information from the trust regarding its application.

    Publishing fees

    Under ss. 41 and 42 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act, a notice of the approval of any amended or new cemetery fees must be published in the Victoria Government Gazette before the fees become effective. Cemetery trusts cannot charge any fee until a notice is published in the gazette.

    Current fees for each Victorian cemetery trust can be accessed using the Cemetery search.

    Applying the approved scale of fees

    Under s. 44 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act, a cemetery trust is required to charge its approved fees. Fees are only to be waived or reduced on grounds of extreme hardship or other special circumstances.

    Exemption of fees and charges from approval

    Under s. 40A of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act, the department's Secretary may exempt specified fees and charges, or scales of fees and charges, from being approved under s. 40 if, in the Secretary's opinion, there is no public benefit in those fees and charges being approved.

  • Financial reporting requirements

    The Class A cemetery trust is responsible for the stewardship and proper accounting of its income and expenditure, assets and liabilities.

    As determined by the Department of Treasury and Finance, Class A cemetery trusts are required to:

    • prepare annual financial statements in accordance with the Standing Directions of the Minister for Finance and the Financial Management Act 1994
    • have those statements audited by the Victorian Auditor-General's Office
    • submit an annual report, incorporating those statements, to the Parliament of Victoria by 30 September each year.

    Annual reporting guidelines for Class A cemetery trusts will be submitted to each trust by the Department of Treasury and Finance.

  • Cemetery levy

    Section 18Q of the Act states that:

    For the purposes of assisting in defraying the costs of administering the Act, making improvements in cemetery trust governance and administration and the provision of services to the community, each Class A cemetery trust must pay an annual levy on its gross earnings as reported in the annual financial statements for that Class A cemetery trust for the previous financial year.

    See Cemetery levy for more information.

  • Gross earnings

    Gross earnings refers to total earnings in a specified time period before deductions. The following information provides an overview of the items to be included and excluded from gross earnings as a guide for Class A cemetery trusts in determining the amount of the levy payable. This definition is current as at December 2016.

    Gross earnings include gross income from:

    • ordinary activities (for example, sale of goods and services)
    • financial instruments (for example, interest and dividend income from shares, term deposits, cash)
    • property (for example, rental income).

    Gross earnings exclude:

    • donations
    • sale or proceeds from the sale of assets other than trading stocks; as such, realised or unrealised gain (loss) from disposal or valuation of financial instruments and properties, plant and equipment should be excluded
    • taxes collected
    • unearned income
    • grants from government departments (for example, maintenance or heritage grants)
    • discounts received or refunds and recoveries on expenses (for example, WorkCover/insurance claims)
    • resources received free of charge (for example, mergers, gifted assets).
  • Additional financial management information

    See Reports and fact sheets for additional financial management information, reports and studies.