Livingston County Veterans’ Services will continue their outreach efforts without additional marketing spending for the time being.

At their monthly meeting, held Wednesday night, the four members present were largely split on the decision to spend just over $77,000 on marketing. Director Mary Durst said that discussions with a firm indicted that ,for that price, they could expect an increase in the number of new veterans seen over the course of the next 12 months to be between 5 and 7%. Committee Chair Joe Riker said that there are many veterans in the county who aren’t aware that Livingston County Veteran Services is there for them

Veterans Services locally saw 610 vets in 2017. That number dipped to 568 in 2018, but ballooned up to 848 this year. That led committee members Bruce Hundley and Jim Wallace to question whether spending $77,000 for a nominal amount of growth was worth it when they saw such a large influx without marketing in 2019.

Riker noted that this year, however, the office was properly staffed, they instituted Walk-In Wednesdays, and had many outreach opportunities, like Vet Fest, that brought in veterans to the office. He said the first year is going to be the most expensive as analytics and everything is else is set up, and that it could drop to the $20-30,000 range in future years. Riker argued that they are only using about a third of their allotted budget for helping veterans, and so why not spend it while they have it on getting more in for help. Wallace said he thought it was too big of a jump going to $77,000, with their actual return on investment being a question mark. Hundley questioned why with 33% growth by way of only inter-county outreach, they should spend the money to increase it another 6%. Durst said she understood it was a leap of faith, but they won’t know until they try.

Riker and County Commission liaison Bob Bezotte voted in favor of spending the money on marketing with Hundley voting against. Wallace pondered his vote for a lengthy period of time before eventually abstaining, meaning the motion did not get the 3 votes required to pass. The committee’s 5th member, Kevin Nagle, was absent. Durst said that in talking with him earlier, she believed he was in favor of approving the spending. Riker said following, he was disappointed, but if there is interest in revisiting the matter with all members present, it may show up on a future agenda. (MK)