MOUNT VERNON — Knox County Commissioners heard a budget presentation Tuesday from the Ohio State University Extension educator program for agricultural education in the county, including 4-H education, and it involves a small proposed increase in 2019.
The Knox County OSU Extension Office and its officials, based at 160 Columbus Road, provided a 2019 budget to the Knox County Commissioners in the amount of $248,000, a proposed increase of $6,000 over this year’s budget. The county pays for 35 percent of the cost of salaries and benefits for Extension educators, with the state and federal portion set at 65 percent.
John Barker III, extension director, said the $6,000 increase over last year’s budget is needed to increase a part-time secretary’s position from 20 to 25 hours per week to handle an increased work load, including time spent with local schools.
The county’s Extension budget includes $183,000 for salaries and $19,000 for benefits. Included in that amount is funding for three full-time Extension educators, including 4-H educators Larry Hall and Andrea Rees, and livestock/horticulture educator Sabrina Schirtzinger. Barker’s salary is paid through the Amos endowment, named for a local family from the Fredericktown area.
The county’s Extension budget also funds all costs of a full-time secretary and the part-time secretary’s position. Non-personnel items in the proposed budget, totaling $46,000, include supplies, postage, new equipment, equipment maintenance, travel and training.
The county’s Extension budget, going back to 2004, used to have as many as eight full-time employees, from 2004-06, and budget as high as $339,000 in 2009. But part of that expense was due to rental of a building; the Extension office is now housed in a county-owned facility on Columbus Road. In addition, Barker said, some positions do not exist anymore, such as a family and consumer sciences position.
Commissioners asked if neighboring counties have a comparable amount of Extension educators. Barker said they do, with Licking and Coshocton counties also having three each, and Delaware County having at least four, he said.
Barker said he has no real budget concerns at present, and for a good reason.
“Our commissioners have supported the Extension program and agricultural education in this county forever,” he said.