The prospect of a veterans home being located in Franklin County may have two strikes against it, but a swing with a bigger bat may be coming.
First District Commissioner Tim Brinker said he is bypassing the state of Missouri and is in early talks with the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs in an attempt to forward the plans for a new vets home in Washington.
Brinker will be conducting a conference call with the executive director of state and local affairs in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to forward the county’s plan for a state or even federal facility.
“We’ll take what we can get,” Brinker said. “The number of vets in need of housing isn’t declining.”
In an effort to alleviate some costs and put Washington first on the list for a new home, the city and Franklin County have agreed to donate a 20- to 25-acre plat of property next to the Phoenix II development to the state of Missouri to build a home on.
The value of the property is estimated between $1.5 and $1.8 million, or $75,000 per acre.
If a 150-bed veterans home was built here, it could generate 185 jobs with an average salary of $32,000, which would add $5,968,583 into the local economy annually.
Adversely, the addition of another nursing care facility in the city could potentially increase the call volume of Washington EMS by about 150 calls per year.
Missouri Veterans Commission Executive Director Larry Kay toured the potential site, to keep dialogue open when, or if, any funding may become available.
Kay toured the site last summer while visiting Franklin County and was made aware of the city’s willingness to cooperate in any way possible to get a home located here.
In February, a member of the Missouri Veterans Commission delivered the first strike, saying the priority before any new homes can be considered will be the maintenance of an existing veterans home in Mexico.
It is a historic site and needs renovations and may need new construction.
The second strike is legislation would have to be passed in the General Assembly to raise the number of veterans allowed in state homes from 1,257 to more than 1,400.
The issue of money entered the conversation and the simple answer is there is none available for new construction.
The estimated cost for construction of a 200-bed facility would be upward of $63 million and cost about $15.5 million to operate annually.
A scaled-back design consisting of only 150 beds, would still come with a price tag of $50 million and have $12 million in annual operating costs.
It costs about $250 per day to house a vet and the state then gets matching funds from the federal veterans administration.