County plans Veterans Office closure

The possible closure of the Hood River County Veteran Services Office tops the agenda for Board of Commissioners in its 6 p.m. meeting Monday.

County Administrator Jeff Hecksel will recommend to the board that, due to lack of funding, the VSO cease operations “unless or until additional revenue is approved to provide this service, and direct staff to close the Veterans Service office as soon as practical.”

Also on the agenda, a proposed Oak Grove Park budget adjustment in the form of a donation of $4,255 from the Friends of Oak Grove Park Committee to maintain Oak Grove Park from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2019.

The County Board faces the decision of how and whether to fund VSO after a request this summer to use only state funds in 2018-019 was found to be against state statutes. The county’s original $80,000 budget application to the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs was rejected, based on state law requiring that counties participate in the operation of VSOs and that a county contribution may not be decreased from the previous year unless an equal percentage decrease is made to all county offices. Hecksel said the county contribution was just over $31,000 last year, but was eliminated as the county dealt with its budgetary shortfall.

Hecksel said veterans will have the option of going to VSOs in Portland or The Dalles, or filing claims on their own.

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