Acting at the request of the Valley Veterans Service Center, whose board of directors has offered up their resignations, the Ravalli County Commissioners have agreed to enter a three-year lease agreement for the commercial space that the Valley Veterans Service Center has been leasing.
Deputy County Attorney Royce McCarty explained that since the mill levy was passed to fund the Veterans Services the four service officers working there are currently county employees but the office itself is still being run by the Veterans Services.
In a recent letter to the commissioners, Veterans Services Board Chair Lyn Hellegaard asked the county to terminate the County Veterans Service Office Management Agreement dated January 29, 2016. She asked that it be terminated as of February 3, 2020.
“Let it be known the VVSC Board is supportive of the restructuring which would facilitate the Service Center becoming a county department with a Commissioner appointed Advisory Board of Directors,” stated Hellegaard.
Hellegaard told the commissioners at last week’s meeting that the Board is ready to turn over the whole operation to the county including the equipment and maintenance responsibilities and was requesting that they take over the lease of the current building located on North 3rd Street in Hamilton.
She noted that a key part of the funding they had been obtaining in the past is no longer available to non-profits.
McCarty said that the commissioners would probably want to request that the Board not dissolve immediately, but stay on until details could be worked out about the IT contract for the Service Center, and other small items of transition such as telephone accounts and possibly utility accounts.
“We will need a little time for this transition to occur,” said McCarty.
Hellegaard said that it would benefit the Center to have them serve as an intermediary because a lot of Vietnam veterans don’t want to deal with the government. It could lead to them not using the services, she said.
“Having a separate facility might help,” she said.
“That’s what we are looking at,” said McCarty, “that in the short term nothing changes. The vets are going to the same building and dealing with the same people.” He said that may change in the future, but “for some period of time there will be no changes.”
Commission Chair Jeff Burrows said, “I think it’s a better structure, but I hope that some members of the current Vets Service Center Board will consider transferring over to the Advisory Board.”
“We put a lot of credibility in our advisory boards,” said Burrows.
The board voted 3-0 to terminate the management agreement.
Regarding signing on to a three-year lease to the commercial property housing the current Service Center, he said that they would not likely find a better deal. It would be $1,000 a month for the extent of the lease.
“I don’t think we can get a better space for that price,” said Burrows. He said that he might not be so willing if they were looking for money from the general fund to do it. “With a levy supporting it, I’m O.K. with it.”
The three-year lease of the commercial building space was approved unanimously.