MOUNT VERNON — Knox County taxpayers are getting the most out of their dollar for veterans services, according to a recent report issued by the Ohio Department of Veterans Services.
“This is a way to educate the commissioners and the taxpayers on what we’re getting in return from our investment,” said Kevin Henthorn, director of the Knox County Veterans Services Office. “All money goes back into the county. It’s all about educating the public.”
According to the report, in 2009 the county spent $537,828 on veterans services. In return, total federal dollars spent within Knox County for veterans services totaled $13,840,059, equaling a ratio of nearly 26 to 1 in local money spent versus federal dollars entrusted to the county.
“These numbers are interesting, and it’s good to be aware of this,” said Knox County Commissioner Allen Stockberger, in responding to details included in the recent report. He explained how the commissioners appropriate 0.5 mills of county valuation toward the budget for the KCVSO, when in past years it used to be 0.25 mills.
“These funds should help our local veterans temporarily,” said Stockberger. “They are not intended to be for long-term relief funding, but rather for short term and to assist in obtaining long-term benefits.”
Details in the report show that from 2006 to 2009, the county budget increased by $51,360. This is used to reach more veterans and provide the best professional service, according to Henthorn. During the same time, federal Veterans Administration money coming into Knox County increased by $3,485,721. The majority of that was from 2009 alone. While the number of veterans assisted in the county has decreased by 368 since 2006, total federal money spent within the county increased in 2008-09 by $2,385,494.
“Our budget is set forth through county property taxes with a certain amount mandated for the veterans,” said Henthorn. “We don’t charge for our services. We do want to be an open book so people can know what we’re spending our money on. This way, they can know what kind of ‘bang for your buck’ the county is getting from veterans funds.”