Voters save extension, 4-H in Harrison County

CADIZ, Ohio – Harrison County will keep its extension and 4-H programs, thanks to voters who passed the county’s property tax levy May 7.

The .75 mill extension levy passed 1,949 to 1,531.

The county was in danger of losing its extension program after 2002 due to the lack of funding from the county’s general fund.

Now that the funds will be available, the extension is planning on creating a full-time agriculture program, said extension agent Jane Keyser.

The extension currently shares the services of extension agents in Carroll and Jefferson counties. However, even with these agents, the program is only at 30 percent capacity.

The extension advisory committee is discussing whether to increase these agents’ time or hire someone to assist them, Keyser said.

Before the levy passed, the county’s 4-H program was also in danger of being closed. The extension is now planning on creating a part-time 4-H program assistant, Keyser said.

“The levy passing ensures the [4-H] program will be around for at least five more years,” Keyser said.

The levy goes into effect in 2003 and will be up for renewal in five years.

Effect on taxpayer. According to a levy committee worksheet, the levy is expected to generate a net of $143,500, all of which will fund the county extension office.

For example, a taxpayer who owns a 200-acre farm with an average tax value of $125 per acre and a home with a tax appraisal of $60,000, will pay $20.08. This amount will not change for the life of the levy, even if the land or house value increases. The average tax value of farmland in the county is $125.

Budget and grants. The extension’s budget for 2003 is $135,000. This amount includes the increase to a full-time agriculture program, a 4-H program assistant, a part-time secretarial position and the associated increase in office expenses, according to levy committee information.

The 2002 budget was $112,772; however, after grant monies, the total budget was $84,719.

The extension currently receives approximately $50,000 in grants per year. The grant money is used for special programs and equipment and to help fund two home economic positions.

Harrison County is the third county in Ohio that has put its extension in the hands of voters. Monroe and Noble are the only other Ohio counties with tax levies to support their county extension services. Noble County has had a levy since the late 1980s. Monroe County passed a .7 mill levy in November 2000.

Deficit. According to the levy committee, the lack of county funds resulted from a 6 percent cut in state funding, 10 percent increase in the county health plan, $70,000 decrease in interest income and $60,000 decrease in sales tax.

Although the extension receives money from the state and federal levels, their support hinges on the county’s funding. If the levy would not have passed, the state and federal levels could have pulled their funding, Keyser said.

(You can contact Kristy Alger at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 23, or by e-mail at kalger@farmanddairy.com.)

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