The body of an Autauga County woman lies inside Magnolia Cremations in Montgomery, and it will remain there until Autauga County Commissioners determine what to do.
It's a rare issue for county commissioners and for county administrator Steve Golsan.
"I haven't dealt with anything like it in the 10 years I've been here," said Golsan.
Golsan declined to release the woman's name but we do know she was 47, lived off Highway 14, died December 30th and her death was not the result of anything criminal. The problem is she had no relatives in Alabama and a sister in Florida told the county she doesn't have any money to bury her.
"We try to have compassion in a situation like this," said Golsan.
With that said, state law requires the county to pay for burial costs. Before the law kicks in family members have to prove they can't pay for burial costs to the Alabama Department of Human Resources. Although this is unusual for Autauga County, it's not in Montgomery County.
Montgomery County had 16 pauper burials in 2009, and the county set aside $3,200 in the fiscal 2012 year budget to cover expenses. Similar information from Elmore County was unavailable.
Magnolia Cremations owner Brad McKinnon says pauper burials represent just 1% of his yearly business and in situations like this he works with counties to help defray burial costs. McKinnon says the cost to Autauga County won't be any more than $450.00 regardless if the commission chooses cremation or a service with a casket for the woman.
A typical funeral today costs between $8,000 to $12,000.
"We try to do what's Christ-like and see what the situation is in each case," said McKinnon.
As of right now the Autauga County Commission has not made a decision, one that won't be made until the commission meets again on February 19th.
McKinnon and Golsan say there is always an element of sadness involved, but Golsan says three people have already called the county and offered burial plots, strangers willing to offer a burial with dignity.
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