Cemetery accounts dealing with land present a problem very similar to that discussed in Chapters XXII and XXIII, under "Subdivision Properties." As a rule, a tract of acreage land is bought and occasionally the whole of this is at once platted, improved, and developed, but, more generally, it is divided into sections which are developed one at a time.
The cost of acquiring the entire tract should first be obtained, and should include the purchase price and legal expenses, together with such costs as fencing the entire tract, surveying and platting it, and possibly also providing for main roads, superintendent's dwelling, offices, and greenhouses. This total cost might also include the cost of any chapels or mortuaries erected; although, if special charges are made for the use of these, it may be better to keep them by themselves. Frequently, the cost should include an estimate of the expenses for general improvements contemplated during the next few years.
The cost of the whole being arrived at and charged to Land account, it is, when necessary, apportioned either at so many dollars per acre of the whole tract, or, if the entire tract is divided into sections which are to be developed one at a time, the total cost is apportioned to these various sections. The result of this is that the balance of the Land account always shows the cost of the unplatted portion; the cost of each section as it is platted being transferred to "Platted Land," or to "Section No. 1," "Section No. 2," etc.
When one or more sections have been platted, the cost of each section is divided among all the lots contained therein, either by finding the average cost or by an appraisement. Each lot is then treated as in subdivision properties. The time of payment is, however, usually shorter than in the case of time sales, and there is a far greater probability that all lots sold will be paid for - a certainty arising from the purpose to which the lots are put. This being the case, it is quite frequently permissible for such an association to regard the gain on each lot sold as "realized," although the actual realization may be slightly postponed.
In the case of cemetery associations not organized for profit, it is frequently obligatory upon the management to transfer a portion of the purchase price, or of the profit, to some particular fund. For this reason, it saves many complications if the gain be always regarded as "realized," and in practice the lapses will usually be so few that no difficulties will be experienced in charging back the profits in these cases.
Especial care must be taken in differentiating "Capital Expenditures" from those chargeable to Revenue account, because it is usual for the same set of men to perform services apparently of a similar nature but chargeable to entirely different funds. For instance, one gang on the same day may:
1. Open or close a grave for a funeral.
2. Work on an individual lot taken care of for the owner on a yearly basis.
3. Work on a similar lot which is under perpetual care, owing to a trust fund having been formed for the purpose.
4. Work on general flower beds or shrubbery.
5. Work on grading a new section about to be opened.
6. Work in greenhouses on growing plants.
Nos. 1 and 2 are chargeable to two different operating accounts; Nos. 3 and 4, probably to two different trust fund income accounts; No. 5, to the capital account for improvements (a cost account); No. 6, to another operating account. It is not necessary to go further into details, however, as enough has been said to indicate the general methods applicable to cemetery real estate accounts.