County Veterans Dept. Cannot Legally Donate To Memorial Day Parade
March 28, 2019
The new director of Livingston County Veterans Services is clarifying why it cannot legally contribute financially toward the annual Memorial Day Parade.
At Monday night’s Howell City Council meeting, a waiver request for civic event fees for the annual Memorial Day parade put on by the American Legion Devereaux Post 141 in Howell was voted down. This is the first year of a new policy in which the city charges 50% of costs incurred to those who are putting on different events. The city previously absorbed all of the costs for things such as policing but is now faced with mounting budget challenges. The American Legion had sought a waiver for the estimated $1,700 fee for the parade as it would be a financial burden on the organization and members due to multiple factors and funding of other items. A request to assist with the city fee was made to the Livingston County Department of Veterans’ Services and a city memo said the department indicated they did not have the resources to assist with the costs.
That is not the case at all according to Director of Veteran Services Mary Durst. She tells WHMI its unfortunate the situation was being skewed as “Veterans Services does not want to help” as she only stated they could not donate because they are legally prohibited from doing so. Durst says she did volunteer to have the office participate in the parade and is willing to help in other areas if needed. She added that the office is there to help and support the Veterans of Livingston County in any way they can but it is important they abide by the laws set forth on how they spend money. The County Legal Department further clarified that donations are generally prohibited but there is a county exception for public Armistice (Veterans) Day celebrations, if the expenditure is authorized by the Board of Commissioners. It went on to state that while a city or village can fund Memorial Day celebrations, the authority for a county is only limited to veterans/armistice day celebrations. It concluded by saying there is not the required statutory authority to permit the county to do this, but the board could for Veterans Day, if it so desired.
After City Council voted down the fee waiver for the parade to avoid setting any precedents, Howell Mayor Nick Proctor and Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Manor announced that they would personally pay for the fee and split the cost but it was noted the American Legion will need to figure out a long term solution to come up with ways to fund the fee. On Monday night, Proctor said they welcome contributions to the American Legion and encouraged anyone who might want to donate toward the cost to contact him or Manor via email at NProctor@CityofHowell.org or SManor@CityofHowell.org. (JM)