WAGGA City Council has been accused of engaging in a "cash grab" at the expense of grieving families following revelations burial costs increased by 30 per cent on July 1.
Last week The Daily Advertiser reported that several of the city's funeral directors had expressed their surprise and shock at the decision to increase costs by more than $1000.
Many residents have joined in the chorus of disapproval, with Thomas Wivell saying the council is failing in its duty to the community.
"This appears to be a cash grab at the expense of grieving families at their most vulnerable," he said.
"Who would say no if it was the difference [in] securing a forever place for your loved one?
"Trying to push these charges on to funeral directors to pass on is absolutely ludicrous and would appear to be local council shunting their responsibility onto private enterprise, the private enterprise that helps the very people the council are trying to extort in a time of despair."
From July 1, fees for a plot of land went up by 183 per cent, while the cost for a first burial went down by only 23 per cent. Combined, the cost increased from $3505 to $4575.
The last three financial years has seen a 5 per cent overall price increase.
However, a council director has defended the decision to raise burial costs, adding it was necessary to maintain and expand the city's cemetery grounds.
Council's director of commercial operations Caroline Angel said while the plans were not mutually exclusive, they had to find an alternative to renewable interment rights where families would be faced with having to pay further costs if they wanted to retain a burial site.
"There is a large area out there to maintain, and we also look after all the village cemeteries," she said.
"We have to consider the upgrades to the crematorium itself, and that is on future plans. Every year, fees and charges are reviewed."
Ms Angel said the changes to costs had been put out on public exhibition, but no submissions had been made.
"We continue to maintain that working relationship with our funeral directors," Ms Angel said.
"I have initiated previously that we catch up and go through the cemetery operations, but unfortunately, the funeral directors weren't able to meet last year."
Ms Angel said any talk about reversing the hike in fees would have to come from councillors.
Cr Daniel Hayes said it was important any money raised from burial-associated fees went straight into the cemeteries, and the money had to come from somewhere.
He said it was essential to future-proof the site and consider what works will be needed in 20 years while managing community expectations.