By DENISE GRANT
Members of the Hancock County Veterans Service Commission asked for a raise on Thursday.
Robert Essinger, Roger Neff, Charles Fisher and Charles Smith attended the Hancock County commissioners’ regular meeting to ask for the pay hike.
The commission members said their monthly pay was decreased in 2006, when the county was experiencing money problems. A pay increase was requested in 2010, but was rejected.
Veterans Service Director Nichole Coleman said the commission members are among the lowest-paid when compared to other Ohio counties with similar veteran populations. There are currently 5,607 veterans in Hancock County, and the commissioners are each paid $400 per month. They are requesting a raise of $100 per month.
Marion County, for example, has a population of 5,481 veterans and pays its commission members $640 per month. Lawrence County, which pays its commission members $450 per month, has a veteran population of 5,357. Commission officers in that county are also seeking a raise.
Washington County has 5,866 veterans and pays $422 per month. Muskingum County has 6,117 veterans and pays $500.
If approved, Coleman said the raise would go only to new commission members or those being reappointed, beginning next year. Commission members serve five-year terms.
The additional cost to the county budget in the first year would be $1,200.
The Veterans Service Office advises and assists veterans and their families in seeking benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and provides other benefits. The office also makes picture identification cards for veterans.
Commission members also attend administrative meetings, report to member organizations, and perform outreach. They also man the county’s memorial squad, which performs graveside services at over 100 military funerals each year. Members are also required to undergo district and state training.
Separately, the county commissioners voted 2-1 to grant an easement to American Electric Power along a vacant property on Cory Street. The company is installing power service for the downtown performing arts center. Commissioner Brian Robertson voted against granting the easement. Robertson said he asked the company to explore other location options.
“I’m just trying to look at the long term, the big picture. What if we need to widen Cory Street in the future? Are we picking a cheaper way now that will cost more in the long term?” Robertson said.
Robertson said the company never responded to his request for more information.
Separately, the commissioners purchased five recycling roll-off units for Litter Landing, 1720 E. Sandusky St., at a cost of $28,350. The county was given a $15,000 trade-in credit.