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The Lake News Online
  • Following backlash, MU Extension budget cut under review

  • Since the announcement of budget cuts to MU Extension by the Camden County Commission, there has been vocal opposition from residents. It appears that community opposition is resulting in a lesser cut to the MU Extension budget.
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  • Since the announcement of budget cuts to MU Extension by the Camden County Commission, there has been vocal opposition from residents. It appears that community opposition is resulting in a lesser cut to the MU Extension budget.
    County commissioners met with extension employees twice since the announcement of the budget cuts. "We are going to put some items back on the table for them," Franken said. More details on what that means are to be released next week.
    In a public hearing held on Dec. 20, individuals were given a chance to speak out about the 2013 proposed budget at the Camden County courthouse.
    Only a handful of residents were in attendance. When given the opportunity to speak, Martha Woods took to the microphone. Woods spoke to the commissioners directly and read aloud an email that she had sent to them previously concerning the extension budget cuts.
    "I was surprised and disappointed to learn that the Camden County Commissioners were proposing to cut the budget for the Camden County Extension Center," Woods said. "This is a resource that many people of all age groups in our county use and benefit from."
    She spoke of her involvement with MU Extension ranging from receiving help with planting gardens, to her and her daughter's involvement in 4H and her current involvement with a weight training and exercise program.
    Woods mentioned the addition of charging MU Extension rent. The county has provided an office space for extension services for no charge in the past, but is proposing a $9,000 rent per year. Woods researched and found other county services that receive rent at no charge such as Habitat for Humanity and Medical Missions for Christ.
     "It appears this County office was chosen as a sacrificial lamb when there are other county service offices that are getting budget increases," Woods said. "In reviewing the budget I found some areas where it appears funding can be redistributed to provide for the County Extension Center. One of these is in the cost for elections. It appears the county has budgeted a total of $150,000 for election costs for the coming year. Why?"
    "The costs during 2012 when we had major elections for a primary and general election to fill national, state, and county offices was also $150,000. Surely these costs will be much lower in 2013 when we elect school board members," Woods added.
    The budget discussed in the public hearing is a preliminary proposal. The official budget will be set sometime next week according to Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken. "I will not have final income and expense numbers on the 2012 budget until late January, but the budget for the county proper was roughly $24 million in 2012. We anticipate the 2013 budget to be similar to the 2012 budget," Franken told the Lake Sun.
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