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Cemeteries and Cemetery Administration

This page contains information on the administration of public cemeteries and cemetery districts in Washington State, including statutory authority and sample documents, as well as the regulation of private cemeteries.


Many cities and towns in Washington operate municipal cemeteries. Many other cemeteries are operated by cemetery districts.

General Cemetery Statutes and Regulations

Municipal Cemetery Statutes

Many municipal cemeteries are operated by the city parks department and maintained by the department's grounds personnel. Below are the statutes relevant to city, town, and county cemeteries:

Cemetery Districts

Cemetery districts may also be established to maintain and operate local cemeteries, pursuant to RCW 68.52.090 - .330. The formation of these districts must be approved by voters, and the districts are governed by a board of three elected commissioners who serve staggered six-year terms (RCW 68.52.220).

Cemetery districts elections must conform with general election laws, except there is no primary election to nominate candidates. Instead, all candidates appear on the general election ballot, and the candidate receiving the largest number of votes for each position is elected (RCW 68.52.155).

Cemetery districts may levy a nonvoted property tax up to 11.25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value and may not contract indebtedness in any year exceeding the aggregate amount of the currently levied taxes (RCW 68.52.290; RCW 68.52.310). The county treasurer receives and disburses all district revenues and taxes using a dedicated cemetery district fund (RCW 68.52.280).

Cemetery districts may also levy one-year excess levies for operations and maintenance, subject to 60% voter approval and minimum validation (voter turnout) requirements (RCW 84.52.052 and Washington State Constitution, Article VII Section 2).

MRSC is aware of 103 cemetery districts in Washington State; for a complete list, download our List of Cemetery Districts (Excel spreadsheet).

For a map of these districts, see the State Auditor's Office page Explore Governments That Serve You. (Under "Choose a Mode," select "Government Type Mode," then click on "Cemetery District.")

Green Burials and Natural Composting

Over time, funeral and memorial services have changed and expanded beyond cremation services and traditional funeral burials to offer more choices and to accommodate more environmentally friendly options. Natural organic reduction, alkaline hydrolysis, and green burials are all alternative ways to honor those who have passed away. Since 2019, “natural composting,” – also known as “natural organic reduction” and “above ground composting,” – is allowed by Washington State law as an alternative to traditional burials and cremation services (RCW 68.50.110).

These processes are summarized in this MRSC blog post, Natural Composting of Human Remains - A First for Washington State.

For more information, see Green Burial Council—a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable, green burial practices.

Remains of Indigent Persons


Examples of Codes


Historic Preservation


  • Ch. 68.60 RCW – Abandoned and historic cemeteries and historic graves


Examples of Cemetery Documents


Cemetery Board Rules, Regulations, and Fees

Historic Public Cemeteries

Cemetery Plans

  • Camas Cemetery Master Plan (2009) – Identifies five major goals regarding database/information system, service expectations, financial stability, maximizing property to meet future needs, and developing a strong volunteer/donation program.
  • Kirkland Cemetery Business Plan (2008) – Plan to increase cemetery revenue without substantially increasing costs; cemetery has no more burial plots remaining. Includes discussion of revenue and expenditure funds, costs of service, SWOT analysis, and debt service schedule.
  • Mabton 2016-2020 Parks and Cemetery Comprehensive Plan (2015) – Five-year plan includes community needs, desired improvements, and level of service goals.
  • Washougal Cemetery Operational Plan (2012) – 20-year plan includes improvements and phased projects to streamline customer service, enhance aesthetics, and address current trends in environmental awareness for maintenance methods and burial options.

RFPs / Bid Documents

Interlocal Agreements

Job Descriptions

Fee Schedules

Recommended Resources

Last Modified: February 27, 2023