Last updateThu, 29 Jan 2015 3pm

Extension seeking budget increase

    Crawford County commissioners considered the county’s University of Missouri Extension Office budget at their meeting on December 17. Pat Snodgrass, program director for the office, made an appeal for an additional $5,000 over last year’s allotted budget, citing the desire to give a pay increase to a secretary and concerns about recent years’ cuts to their budget, as the necessity for the increase. For 2013, the office received around $47,000, and the request for 2014 is close to $52,000.

    Snodgrass reported on the variety of programs that are offered to local residents through the extension office and noted that the University of Missouri contributes about $284,000 towards the running of those programs within the county, primarily through staffing. “This is money you don’t have to pay for the program here in Crawford County,” she said. “But we could not get any of that without your part.”
    She also presented county funding guidelines from the university, reporting that, because there are three specialists who work out of the Crawford County office, she would like to work toward county funding of $59,000. “Our request is much lower than that,” she said, “but it is something we need to work towards.”
    Snodgrass gave the commission a chart showing the trends in allotments given to the extension office by the county over the years, pointing out that the highest amounts were in 2008 and 2009. “Since then, we have taken drastic cuts to the tune of probably over 30 percent,” she said. She stated that their office had taken the most drastic cut of any departments for the 2010 budget, and added, “We’ve made about all the cuts we can make. We’ve had to dip into our savings.”
    Part of the request for additional funding was to give a 50-cent raise to one of the office’s secretaries, one who, according to Snodgrass, has worked for the office for 21 years without many raises. That employee currently makes $11 an hour.
    The three specialists in the extension office work for a number of different counties, so Crawford County Commissioners questioned whether the funds budgeted for here stay within the county. Snodgrass assured them that they do. Associate Commissioner Kenny Killeen, who represents the commission on the extension council, noted, “We just pay a share of those people, because they are not just operating in Crawford County.”
    Snodgrass also noted that the two support staff members were the only salaries paid by Crawford County, but County Clerk Mardy Leathers clarified that the two were not county employees; the funding from the county is used to pay their salaries.
    According to Snodgrass, the amount requested would return the office to 1998 revenue levels. “We need to try to get back to where we were,” she said. “When you’ve taken a third of your budget, it’s hard. We feel like we took the cuts for the county a couple of years there in a row. And we made it work.”
    After Snodgrass left the meeting with commissioners, Killeen noted that she had essentially requested a 10-percent increase. And while an increase would negatively affect the overall county budget, the commission was inclined to consider some kind of increase over last year’s numbers.
    “I know we hit them pretty hard last year and the year before,” Associate Commissioner Paul Watson said. He proposed possibly increasing their budget to $49,000, which would be 2011 levels. Leathers noted that would merely increase the current proposed expenses for the county budget by about $1,400.