The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has entered into a 60-year agreement with Levittown-based StoneMor Partners L.P. to manage its 13 cemeteries in the greater Philadelphia region, including Resurrection Cemetery in Bensalem and All Saints Cemetery in Newtown.
"This arrangement serves the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia well by maintaining our cemeteries as sacred, dignified places of burial while offering employment and important protections for our dedicated staff," said Archbishop Charles Chaput in a statement. "It allows us to retain ownership of the Catholic Cemeteries while creating immediate and long-term benefits to help us rebuild a strong financial footing."
StoneMor will pay an initial $53 million lease payment, plus an additional $32 million broken up in the following payments:
- Years 6-20: annual lease payments of $1,000,000
- Years 21-25: annual lease payments of $1,200,000
- Years 26-35: annual lease payments of $1,500,000
All current full-time, year-round Catholic Cemeteries staff members will be offered employment with StoneMor and become employees of StoneMor.
As part of the arrangement, those employees have meaningful protections for a period of two years at their current base pay. They will also receive health benefits under StoneMor's healthcare plans. Additionally, years of service will be taken into account when determining the accrual of vacation time.
Other stipulations in the agreement include:
- The current perpetual care fund (approximately $30 million as of June 30, 2012) and all future earnings from the fund will remain with the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese intends to place such funds in a separate trust.
- StoneMor will be responsible for providing perpetual care, at its cost, over the term of the arrangement and will also be responsible for establishing a perpetual care fund for all of its sales of burial rights.
- Proceeds from any future land sales to third parties will be shared with 51 percent to the Archdiocese and 49 percent to StoneMor.
- While it is expected that the arrangement will run through its term, both parties can terminate for cause and the Archdiocese can terminate without cause during the 11th year of the arrangement.
According to a press release, StoneMor is the second largest owner and operator of cemeteries in the nation. StoneMor currently owns and operates 277 cemeteries and 92 funeral homes in 27 states and Puerto Rico.
Archbishop Chaput decided to pursue an outsourced management and leasing arrangement for the 13 Archdiocesan cemeteries located throughout the five-county Philadelphia region as part of a plan to balance the archdiocese's books.