Mahoning County commissioners will likely give the county Veterans’ Service Commission the full $2 million allocation for 2011, to which it is legally entitled, said John A. McNally IV, chairman of the county commissioners.
McNally said the commissioners will likely vote on the matter at their 10 a.m. meeting today in the county courthouse basement or at next week’s meeting.
In late December, the county commissioners allocated only $1.5 million to the commission for 2011 because that is closer to the $1.2 million to $1.3 million the commission has actually spent in recent years, McNally said.
The commission normally returns unused money to the county’s general fund each autumn for use by other county agencies, he added.
“It’s never been the county commissioners’ intent to shortchange the Veterans’ Services Commission,” McNally said.
Under state law, the Veterans’ Service Commission may request, and the county commissioners must provide to the commission annually, up to a half-mill per dollar on the county’s assessed property valuation. The half-mill now equals about $2 million a year.
The three county commissioners, George J. Tablack, county administrator and budget director, Barry Landgraver, the veterans’ commission’s executive director, and the five members of the Veterans’ Service Commission met Wednesday to discuss the veterans’ commission budget.
VSC members are asking for the commission’s full legal entitlement now because they face referrals from the new veterans’ court at Youngstown Municipal Court and the need to serve an uncertain number of veterans who will be returning this year from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, said Edward Savel, Veterans’ Service Commission president.
“We never know how many people are going to be needing relief in any particular year,” Savel said. The impact of this year’s expiration of extended unemployment benefits upon local veterans is unknown, he added.
Commission members read about the $1.5 million allocation in The Vindicator, but they would have preferred being informed about the amount in a face-to-face meeting with the county commissioners, Savel said.
The commission provides temporary, emergency financial assistance to veterans, assistance with filing claims for veterans’ benefits, and van transportation for veterans to Cleveland area U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers.