JEFFERSON CITY – Some MU Extension offices have been suffering from budget shortfalls in recent years, but a bill passed through a House Committee on Thursday could help fix that.
The bill would allow counties to share their resources for MU Extension programs by joining to create districts. It also would allow those districts to propose property taxes to fund their MU Extension programs.
MU Extension is a partnership between MU and Lincoln University to provide programs across the state that educate people in fields such as business, natural resources, and nutrition, among others. Tony DeLong, county council coordinator for MU Extension, said the programs give people the chance to empower themselves and contribute to society.
DeLong said 21 mostly rural counties are currently facing budget shortfalls, with Green County facing the gravest problems.
As a result of the budget shortfalls, some offices are open only two days a week, he said. Although the state and the federal governments pay for the specialists who administer extension programs, counties have to find money to pay for necessary support, including secretarial support and travel expenses.
Joining counties into extension districts would increase efficiency by maximizing the use of the money the counties have, DeLong said.
Anita Hampton, state extension council member, said counties could create a centralized location or share secretaries if they are part of one district. They could also lend each other equipment.
A property tax levy – which could not exceed 30 cents per $100 assessed value – would have to be passed by majorities in each county in a district.
The bill has not yet been assigned for a third reading in the House.