Casey restores 4-H agent to Extension Service budget

June 02, 2004|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

LIBERTY - The Casey County Cooperative Extension Service will remain a three-agent office.

That was the decision reached last week during a special meeting of the county Extension Board, five days before the Tuesday deadline posed by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

Larry W. Turner, associate director of the UK Extension Service, warned the Extension Board in April that if it went from a three-agent office to a two-agent, eliminating the 4-H agent, steps would be taken to close the local extension program.

The Extension Service had decided to drop the 4-H agent the next fiscal year and make the county a two-agent extension program because of proposed budget cuts.


After Chairman John Gossage asked for recommendations concerning amending the 2004-2005 budget that omitted the 4-H agent, Treasurer Fred Harper recommended the budget changes.

"After lengthy deliberations with the officers of the University of Kentucky, I recommend that changes be made in the 2004-2005 extension budget to reflect the results of those discussions," said Harper, according to the minutes of the meeting. "For your consideration, I have constructed a new budget with the recommended changes."

After reviewing the amended budget, Ricky Cannon made the motion to amend the budget reflecting the changes, and Geri Phillippe seconded. The motion carried unanimously.

Neither board Chairman John Gossage nor Fred Harper, treasurer, could be reached for comment.

The new budget does include the three agents, said Carol Benson, director of the 5th District, which includes Casey County.

UK feels positive about the decision

She said that UK feels positive about the decision and thinks it can now move in the right direction. We still have to get an agreement fully signed. We're very optimistic about the outcome of the process."

Debbie Shepherd, Family and Consumer Services agent at the local office, said the board really worked hard to get the problem worked out. "We're going to work hard to keep things going." She said by rearranging the budget and eliminating portions of the program and mileage money, funds were made available for financing a 4-H agent.

The revised 2004-2005 budget shows an increase of $8,400 that is in the county Board of Education's budget for next fiscal year which makes the total income $123,136. The Extension Board said earlier that it would not get the money from the school board.

The budget also shows that $28,274 listed earlier for support staff, full time and partial benefit support (secretary's salary and benefits) has been deleted. However, $19,301 was added as a salary for the secretary. A third staff salary was increased from $10,000 to $19,301 which is apparently a portion of the 4-H agent's salary and benefits.

The money appropriated for professional staff, including a base agent salary contribution, was increased to $20,000 for a total of $39,301 or an increase of $1,027 for salaries. Expenses were cut from $7,500 to $1,800. The ag agent's expenses were cut by half from $3,000 to $1,800, and travel expenses for the 4-H and family and consumer services agent were eliminated. The secretary will get $300 in expenses, down from $1,500.

The entire $3,300 for professional improvement for agents and support staff was eliminated from the budget.

The base program support for operational costs and office expenses was increased from $3,950 to $5,150 due to the third agent.

Office operation expenses increased to $67,885

Office operation expenses were increased from $50,275 to $67,885. This includes increases for capital improvements, facility maintenance, services and supplies, equipment and an audit financial review.

The budget also reduces the reserve for emergency from $11,437 to $9,000.

After the local Extension Board decided to eliminate the 4-H agent due to budget cuts, and hire an extension assistant to work with the 4-H program 20 hours a week, UK offered to help work out a solution to keep the 4-H agent.

Turner said earlier that UK did not cut funding for the local extension programs but counties across the state had requested an increase in money to operate programs. He warned that if the Casey Extension Service went to a two-agent office, it could take up to 10 years to get the three-agent program reinstated.

He also said it would be difficult to fill the ag agent's position which has been vacant since October when Tommy Yankey took a position with the Anderson County Extension Service.

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