WOOSTER, Ohio — He had said it would be the end, and from the way it looks, it might just be.
Mike Hogan, director of Ohio State University Extension in Carroll County, said in April his county would need to pass a .57 mill, five-year tax levy if it was to continue Extension services and 4-H.
Unofficial election results show that it failed, with 57 percent of votes against the levy, and 43 percent in favor.
Hogan had few words on May 5 — the day after the election — simply saying “it most likely means we will close.”
The economy has been too big a hurdle to overcome, he said, and without a local source of funds, the county cannot receive state funds from OSU.
The facility that houses the county Extension is rented, and details concerning closure are not yet known.
“We had a group that worked really hard,” he said of those who tried to get the levy passed, adding “the fairboard was supportive of the issue.”
The same uncertainty is baffling Extensions in Highland and Jackson counties, where levies there also were defeated.
We have to regroup and the actual ‘Highland for Extension’ committee levy will have to look at the options and decide how they will like to move forward,” said Highland County Extension Director Rose Fisher Merkowitz.
Her county was seeking a .45 mill levy, with the intent that a failed vote would cause all programs to be “severely reduced or eliminated.”
She said Extension will have enough funds to get through November, and this year’s fair will go on as usual, but funds will need to appear if it is to continue.
“It’s extremely disappointing, a very sad day for Highland County,” she said.
Slim as it gets
Jackson County Extension Director Erin Dailey is already used to a slim staff and program. In fact, she’s the only OSU-supported staff member in the office, and it can’t get any slimmer. Commissioners appropriated no money for Jackson’s Extension in 2010.
The county sought a .25 mill five-year levy, half the amount it asked for in the November elections. But it was defeated by 550 votes, with 55 percent of votes against the levy, and 45 percent in favor.
Dailey said its back to the drawing board, and back to meetings to decide if and from where money will come.
“Right now we’re not really sure. …We’re going to meet with the Extension support committee on Monday,” she said, as well as administration from the OSU Extension in Columbus.
Van Wert successful
The only county to pass a levy for Extension was Van Wert County, where voters approved a .4 mill, five-year levy.
Extension Director Andy Kleinschmidt was delighted, because now his county can maintain what it has, and potentially make improvements.
Sixty-four percent of the vote was in favor of the levy, with 34 percent against.
“That is a very positive margin,” he said. “This means that we now have — beginning in 2011 — full funding for Extension services and for the citizens of Van Wert County.”