Commissioners who oversee the Veterans Service Commission in Union County have been diligent about not spending all of the money set aside, according to Union County Commissioner Tom McCarthy.

Commissioners who oversee the Veterans Service Commission in Union County have been diligent about not spending all of the money set aside, according to Union County Commissioner Tom McCarthy.

"Year after year, they have not spent that amount," McCarthy said as he referred to the five-member commission appointed for five-year terms.

McCarthy was addressing Executive Director Dale Bartow during an Oct. 20 budget hearing. Bartow submitted his 2009 budget packet for the county commissioners' review and approval.

In the packet, he provided an appropriations worksheet, personnel service schedule, a list of equipment needs and projected building needs, payroll data, including a new-hire breakout, and a Veterans Service Office budget breakout.

The maximum budget allowed for the Veterans Service Commission and Office at the 0.5 mill of assessed property taxes is $640,000 for 2009.

Bartow, who was accompanied to the budget hearing with the county commissioners by County Veterans Service officer David Cook Sr. and Veterans Service Commission president Rowland Seymour, said he based the figure on conversations he had with the county auditor.

"She said at that point in time, she thought it would be $630,000 to $640,000," Bartow said. "I went ahead and used the $640,000, the greater side of it."

He went on to point out that the total requested budget is for $625,162.38.

Bartow was also quick to point out that he made a 50-cent error in the original document sent to the county pertaining to Seymour's salary as representative of the American Legion.

Seymour received $463.50 per quarter in 2008 and the request is for $900 per quarter in 2009 for a total of $3,600.

"I just wanted to make sure you guys have the same exact documents that I have," Bartow said.

Based on the rotation and Prosecutor Dave Phillips' decision to move everyone to the same pay, McCarthy asked if everything was good.

"Yes, we are," Bartow said.

The salaries for Robert Jordan, representing the Veterans of Foreign Wars; Max Amrine, representing Disabled American Veterans; Bill McKinnon, representing AMVETS; and at-large representative Kenneth Bonnell will be the same as Seymour's salary in 2009.

McCarthy said everyone will be treated the same in the coming year.

"It took a year and a half," said Union County Commissioners' president Gary Lee.

Seymour corrected him, saying it dates back to April of 2006. McCarthy said they are asking for transparency.

"We trusted the former situation and that had an undesirable outcome," he said.

Bartow said he will offer no argument.

"I'm transparent about 50 cents here," he said.

Bartow's annual salary was $47,840 in 2008 and the budget calls for a 4-percent increase, taking it to $49,753.60 in 2009.

Cook's hourly salary will also increase by 4 percent, from $21.76 to $22.63, with a total in 2009 of $49,753.60.

A benefits counselor and investigator will have an hourly salary of $16.43, with a total of $34,278.40, and clerk and transportation coordinator Ben Adkins will have an hourly salary of $12.85, bringing his annual pay to $26,737.15.

The total budget for the personnel service schedule is $175,840.38.

"They have operated within their budgets, they are taking care of veterans and not denying services that they are entitled to, turning back to the county funds that are not used," said McCarthy. "It looks like you are on pace this year; that will also be the case come year-end."

McCarthy told Bartow he appreciated the due diligence.

The conservative and prudent nature of the Union County community, according to McCarthy, is not to spend money if it is not needed.

Seymour said he hoped the group would not have to spend all of the money sought in the 2009 budget.