Kent County Veterans Services

Kent County Dedicated Veterans Millage Frequently Asked Questions

The voters of Kent County will be asked to decide on a Dedicated Veterans Millage on the November 2014 ballot.  This eight year, .05 mills tax would raise about $1 million a year to assist veterans.   The millage will cost the owner of a $200,000 home approximately $5 annually. 

What is this millage about?  
The proposal calls for a vote in November’s General Election on a .050 mill Dedicated Veterans Millage.  If passed, the millage would generate slightly over $1 million for increased outreach and emergency services, and allow the Kent County Veterans Affairs Office to more than double the hours that staff work on federal claims assistance. 

How will the money be spent? 
The Kent County Department of Veterans Affairs (KCDVA) helps County veterans and their dependents find veteran-related benefits. This includes claims for Federal benefits, State benefits, (administering the Michigan Veterans’ Trust Fund), and County benefits (Soldier’s & Sailors Relief Fund and burials).  The KCDVA also provides referrals to local non-profit agencies. The Department Manager also conducts presentations regarding veterans’ benefits upon request. These services would all be covered by an operating millage.

How does Kent County spending compare with other Michigan counties?
Kent County has the fourth-largest veteran population in Michigan, yet we are 50th of 83 counties in federal dollars awarded.  Michigan continually ranks near dead last in the States and US Territories. Right now, Kent County spends $8 per veteran, while its next-closest peer, Oakland County, spends over three times that at $27 and Livingston County spends almost eight times as much at $55 per veteran.   If the dedicated millage were passed, Kent County would spend approximately $36 per veteran.

What kind of ‘Return on Investment’ does Kent County receive for having a county-funded Veterans Services Officer?  
There has been a return of approximately $974,000 in federal benefits annually, which are reinvested in the community in the form of groceries, gas, clothes, and miscellaneous services.  This is a 2310% Return on Investment (ROI) of the County General Funds. Since the Department’s creation to April 1 of this year, it has helped secure over $15.5 million for local disabled veterans.  For every $1 of General Funds used by the Veterans Affairs Department in 2012, $17.33 was returned to County residents in the form of Compensation and Pension benefits – again, money that is reinvested in the community.

The millage includes hiring 2.5 positions.  Is there enough demand for that increase?  
The KCDVA has seen significant increases in requests for service, and this is only expected to increase due to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

When do we expect the increase in service requests to level off? 
We cannot accurately project when this will occur. There are currently 36,000 veterans in Kent County. Burial requests for Vietnam veterans are increasing, while the number of WWII veterans are decreasing. There is an expected increase in service requests from Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) veterans; we can expect the demand for service to maintain, if not increase steadily over the next few years.  With legislation pending in the State Legislature for Cold War veterans, there is a potential for an increase in service demands that would impact the Veterans Trust Fund and Soldiers Relief Fund.

If a millage passes, and funds are provided to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, will the funds currently budgeted for the Department return to the General Fund? 
No. The intent of the current Board is to maintain existing General Fund appropriations.

To what extent have needs increased in the past few years?

 

2011

2012

2013

Average Contacts per Month

632

757

838

Requests for Financial Assistance

164

325

208 (thru June)

 

Veterans Services: (616) 632-5722