MOUNT VERNON — During a budget meeting with the Knox County Commissioners on Monday, representatives from the Knox County Veterans Service Office and commission demanded $58,291 which the commissioners left out of the VSO’s 2011 budget.
The figure provided by the commissioners prior to Monday’s meeting, $524,619, represents the funds projected to be collected in 2011 through 1/2-mill property tax that is designated for the VSO. However, VSO director Kevin Henthorn, and members of the VSO commission, told the county commissioners they were entitled to the entire 1/2-mill amount regardless of whether it was collected or not.
“We are here this morning for one reason and one reason only. That is to go on record as to the county commissioners’ position as to the approval or denial of the veterans service commission funding for 2011,” Henthorn said, reading from a written statement. “We are not here to engage in discussion of any law, policy or opinion outside that of Title 5901 of the Ohio Revised Code, which is the only governing law applicable in this situation. Any other discussion is completely irrelevant and would be a waste of our time and the time of the Knox County taxpayers. We will also not engage in any discussion as to your personal interpretation of said law, as this law stands alone and is unmistakable.”
He continued and read from the portion of the law and an Ohio Supreme Court ruling governing the VSC’s budget, and copies were given to the commissioners.
Henthorn quoted particularly: “... boards of county commissioners are not permitted to revise lawful veterans service commission budgets.” Henthorn said this issue has been discussed many times before by county commissioners and the VSO.
“We, and the veterans of Knox County, find it increasingly frustrating that this continues to be an issue and seems to be simply a form of harassment,” said Henthorn.
Henthorn continued with his address, stating that the VSO understood the financial situation the county is in, and in the past has made voluntary cuts that included a pay freeze. He also anticipated the VSO would return up to $10,000 in unused funds from 2010.