Lawmakers debate real grave matters SALT LAKE CITY (UPI) - State Sen. Rex Black, D-Salt D-Salt D-Salt Lake, thought a proposal to create a Utah war veterans cemetery would be non-controversial. non-controversial. non-controversial. But Black didn't take into account opposition opposition from private cemetery owners. Lobbyists for the Utah Association of Cemetery Operators trooped through the State Senate chamber Monday with a series of horror stories about the eventual costs of creating a U.S. military military cemetery. The opponents claimed it could cost Utah $36 million by the year 2000 to build and maintain a 23-acre 23-acre 23-acre veterans cemetery adjacent to Camp Williams in southwestern Salt Lake County. Black, the Senate minority leader, fumed at what he called "gross exaggerations" exaggerations" on the part of the private cemetery lobby. But the rest of the senators senators didn't go along with Black and indefinitely indefinitely delayed action on his proposal. proposal. "It's all a lot of self-serving self-serving self-serving talk on the part of the cemetery owners. They're just afraid of the money they'd lose," Black said following the vote to postpone action. Black and veterans' organizations supporting his bill countered with their own figures indicating the graveyard would cost Utah, at most, $7 million by the year 2000 to build and operate. Conflicting cost estimates were primarily primarily responsible for the Senate's decision decision to delay a vote on the measure. "I'd like to have our legislative analysts analysts come up with a single, reliable estimate," estimate," said State Sen. Warren Pugh, R-Salt R-Salt R-Salt Lake. Black, however, said the cost could never approach the estimate of the cemetery lobby. "Not every veteran, and every veteran's veteran's wife, and every veteran's depend ant is going to ask to be buried in it," said Black. "I'm a veteran myself and I don't want to be buried in it." The association based its $36 million estimate on the cost of burying every veteran, his spouse and children in Utah a total of 458,000 people. It also assumed in each case the state and federal federal government, who would split the expense, would have to pay the full cost of burial. "Not every veteran in the state is an indigent who must be buried at taxpay-, taxpay-, taxpay-, ers expense," Black said. But some veterans, he said, do need some help. "Right now, there's a little area for them in the Taylorsville Cemetery, but it looks like paupers graves out there. The graves are covered with weeds. They put up little wooden markers on a fence for the graves, and a lot of them have been torn down. It's just a disgrace," disgrace," he said. Even in cases where the the family of a veteran can afford to pay for the burial, burial, they likely can't get a space in Utah's two existing military burial grounds said Black. "Fort Douglas is just about filled up. The Salt Lake City Cemetery gets about 200 applications per year and can take only about 50. You have to be a high-ranking high-ranking high-ranking officer or you don't get in," he said. Black's bill would require the state to donate 23 acres of land immediately north of Camp Williams, valued at $407,000, and spend $404,000 to convert it.The federal government would contribute contribute $410,000 in startup costs. But the minority leader said he didn't know whether, in view of the heavy and well organized lobby effort by the private private cemetery owners, he would be able to get it passed.