The Casey County Extension Council voted earlier this year to do away with a full-time 4-H agent and hire a part-time assistant due to a $23,000 shortfall in revenues in 2004-2005 fiscal year. The assistant would work 20 hours a week for $10,000 annually and no benefits. It said the ag and home agents, with help of volunteers, would run the 4-H program. That would mean current 4-H agent Jan Atwood would not be rehired.
UK counsel says negative comments are not true
Overstreet did not name his client, but said copies of documents about the Casey 4-H program included two letters that made negative comments about the agent, which the UK legal counsel said were not true. One letter alleged grant money was not being used properly, but an audit showed otherwise, according to Overstreet. He said the extension council was not happy with the audit and refused to pay for it. County Judge-Executive Ronald Wright paid for the audit out of his own money, said the attorney.
Overstreet said UK spoke highly of the Casey 4-H program and how it was being run in the county.
"I think it's a petty personality thing to deny children a program over one individual who wants to write letters," he said.
County Attorney Thomas M. Weddle Jr. said if the budget vote was unanimous, he failed to see how Overstreet could attribute the decision to one person.
Overstreet replied he did not believe Dennie Johnson nor Jeri Phillippe, members of the council, would pass a budget to do away with the 4-H program. However, the final decision on the matter is up to UK.
Program cannot be reinstated for five to seven years
Overstreet said the longtime extension secretary will retire this month and the budget reflects a savings of $7,800 from her salary. He also said once the 4-H program is cut, UK said it cannot be reinstated for five to seven years.
"I understand they (extension council) want to build a $250,000 building and that's fine, but we've got to put things in perspective," Overstreet said. "I think children need a 4-H program."
After looking over the budget, Magistrate Gary Johnson agreed nothing in the budget reflected the 4-H program.
Weddle said the budget shows $10,000 less than the current budget. The budget will get less money from the state, and $8,400 from the local school board also was not listed as revenues. This is partly due to the absence of a state budget, he said. The actual cuts amount to $23,000.
Wright said the Department of Local Government said counties are responsible for accepting taxing district budgets as long as they balance. He said fiscal courts are responsible for appointing members to the boards, and the boards oversee the income and expenditures.
Taxing districts must submit budget to the court by April 15
"As long as they are workable budgets and the expenses match the receipts, all we do is receive it," Wright said. After the court accepts the budget, it is sent to the state for approval. The taxing districts are required to submit a budget to the court by April 15.
"I wish we didn't have to deal with this but we do," said Wright. "They presented the budget and I think we should approve it."
When the matter was brought to a vote, Magistrate Mike McQueary was the only magistrate to vote no. The three others voted to accept the document.
A public meeting is scheduled 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Casey County Cooperative Service office on U.S. 127 South to discuss concerns pertaining to the 4-H program.