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County board discusses Extension funding changes

By Staff | Dec 8, 2017

Proposed changes to how much counties would be responsible for county NDSU Extension Service agents’ salaries and benefits would affect Pierce County in the 2019 budget year.

The Pierce County Board of County Commissioners met with Extension Service Central District Director Ron Wiederholt and Pierce County Extension Agent Yolanda Schmidt during a regular meeting Tuesday morning to discuss proposed changes to the base policy regarding NDSU Extension Service’s financial partnership between the state and counties.

The changes SBARE proposed to the state Legislature included a 60-40 split in the partnership. The state would pay 60 percent of total compensation and the county would pay 40 percent and would also pay benefits.

For counties with a total population of less than 2,000 people, options included merging or sharing programs with a neighboring county; alternate staffing; or funding a single agent in a 40-60 agreement where the state would pay 40 percent of total compensation and the county would pay 60 percent.

In the current policy, the state pays 50 percent of Extension agents’ salaries plus benefits while the county pays the other 50 percent. The county also pays for operating expenses.

Under the proposed changes, Pierce County’s responsibility of 40 percent would be an additional $5,154 to budget for.

Wiederholt informed the board that the State Board of Agricultural Research & Education did an internal review of the Extension Service, which included a review of the service’s mission; existing programs; and potential program changes. SBARE looked at the extension’s programming efforts, marketing, organizational structure and budget.

Wiederholt said there were previously four programs in the Extension Service: ag & natural resources, 4-H, Family Consumer Science, and Community Vitality. Now there are three: 4-H, ag & natural resources and Family & Community Wellness. The number of Extension service districts was also reduced from four to three. Wiederholt said he previously had 11 counties but now the Central district has 20 counties, including Pierce.

Reasons for revisions included the Extension Service’s budget being reduced by over $4 million for the 2017-19 biennium, and the Extension taking on increasing costs in fringe benefits.

Profitable October for HACTC

October was a profitable month as well for the Heart of America Correctional & Treatment Center.

HACTC Administrator Mike Graner informed the board that the jail had at $17,638.37 profit for October. Graner also informed the board the facility’s current population is 112 inmates, and that in November the average daily population was 104.

The board approved a request from Graner and Chief of Security Darren Heidbreder to purchase handheld 16 radios for the facility at a cost of $8,400.

Other actions

– The board held nominations for chair and vice-chair. Dave Migler was reelected chairman and Mike Brossart was elected vice-chairman.

– The board reviewed and approved soil type modifiers and adjustments for 2018.

– The board approved beer and liquor license applications for the Rugby Eagles, the Rugby Golf Club and Larry’s Bar in Selz.

– The board approved reappointing Bill Deck to the Pierce County Water Resource Board and Curtis Roerick and Victor Scherr to the county Planning & Zoning Board.

– The board approved precincts for the 2018 elections, with the polling place at the Pierce County Courthouse and the county continuing to be a vote-by-mail county.

– The board approved payments of $1,100.98 from the 2013 Disaster fund to Hillside Township for road repairs; $7,000 from the general fund to the Library Elevator Project; an $11,000 ($5,000 from the Heart of America Library and $6,000 from the city of Rugby) additional payment to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the library elevator project; and $13,315.18 to Border States Paving for work on a road project.

– The board approved November meeting minutes, bills and financial statements, treasurers checks and HACTC bills and financial statements.

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