POMEROY, Ohio – Following the loss of the Medicaid Managed Care Organization (MCO) sales tax revenue, Meigs County is looking to tighten the budget belt and the Ohio State University Extension program could be one of the programs facing funding issues as a result.
Initially when the Meigs Independent Press inquired about the possibility of the county loosing the Extension Office and therefore loosing 4-H and all the other programs that are provided through that office, the short answer was “yes.” Meigs County Commissioner Tim Ihle told the Meigs Independent Press initially that at the end of 2018 the funding from the county would be cut because Extension is not an “essential” service. This means that the county is not required by law to fund it. Ihle was clear that non-essential services and programs (those not required by law for the county to fund) would be cut. After the Meigs Independent Press questioned further, the stance was changed and was told funding would be there through 2019 for Extension.
The Meigs County Commissioners were very vocal at the state level during the fight to replace the MCO sales tax with a fee which would have been a “fix” for the revenue lost, which is what the state of Ohio did at the state level. That was not the course of action taken by the state legislature or Gov. John Kasich to date. State Representative Jay Edwards (R), representing Meigs County, worked to bring awareness to what the MCO sales tax revenue loss would mean for areas like Meigs and Vinton Counties. For Meigs County it is an estimated 21 percent of the annual budget. He was part of working to get funding for counties to help defray the brunt of the revenue loss. Meigs County has received six years worth of projected revenue loss totaling about $3.4 million. The purpose of the money is to help ease the impact of the sudden reduction in income. Meigs County still has a predicted reduction in revenue, but the measures taken by the state legislature gives counties and transit authorities time to try to manage the impact of revenue loss. It also allows the state to elect a new governor. Gov. Kasich vetoed measures that would have been a fix for the loss of revenue.
With the $600,000 plus carryover from 2017, the county is going into 2018 in the black. Ihle was quick to point out that could disappear if the funds are not managed correctly. It remains, however, the funding for Extension is available through 2018 and 2019. The question would only be if the Meigs County Commissioners chose to utilize those funds to keep Extension and 4-H in the county. The answer to that was unclear following the last discussion with the commissioners, particularly with Ihle and the Meigs Independent Press. It appears funding will continue.
According to information from the Ohio State University Extension, OSU contributes $122,000 annually to the local program. Meigs County contributes $97,000 annually to the program. The money mainly goes toward salaries. The Ohio State University pays $122,000 off the top of the necessary budget to fund Extension. That money goes to provide for the salaries and benefits for employees in Meigs County. That money is not sent through the county to then budget back to the program. It is paid off the top. The county then pays remaining costs. The county pays $30,000 for the first Educator and $40,000 for each additional full time Educator. Currently, Meigs County supports 1.5 Educators. The remainder of their salary and benefits come from state and federal funds. More than half of the costs for Extension is paid by The Ohio State University.
In addition to Educators, Meigs County Extension has two SNAP-ED PA’s to “provide programming on increasing healthy habits to those in the county who are eligible for food assistance programs,” according to a description from Extension. One employee is splitting time between Meigs and Gallia Counties. Another serves Meigs only but is at 75% time. The programs for SNAP-ED which includes all salary, benefits and programming supplies comes from grants administered by OSU Extension. They county does not pay for those services.
Meigs County receives multiple programs through OSU Extension in the county. The loss of which could have a ripple effect across the county. For example, without OSU Extension there would be no 4-H which would greatly impact the Meigs County Fair with exhibitors and participants. The projects taken could then impact local retailers including feed and livestock supply sales.
Smith and Ihle have both mentioned the possibility of a levy to fund Extension in the county as well.
At this time, the program is allegedly funded through 2018 and into 2019.
Facts about OSU Extension in Meigs County:
- 325 youth were enrolled in 4-H projects; all enrollments were entered in the 4-H Online system within 5 working days
- 22 approx. were enrolled in FFA livestock projects, which we track for Quality Assurance Training purposes
- 230 youth completed Quality Assurance and information was entered into the Online program
- 5 new 4-H Advisors/volunteers were processed with reference checks and finger prints and then entered into the Online program
- 63 Volunteers received Advisor training this year
132 Number of youth attending Summer Camp with registrations processed in Meigs County. 7 beginner, 7 Junior High, 2 Teen Camp, 1 Cloverbud Day Camp, 3 Cloverbud Overnight Camp, 1 Fall Festival Camp, 13 special needs (State Camp), and 98 STEM Camp (regional camp). Registration and financial information was recorded and balanced at the end of Summer Camp season and payments were mailed to Canter’s Cave. Also all expenses were recorded with regard to the grants for STEM and Special Needs
- Pre fair judging was held with approximately 225 youth attending. All judges were secured, schedule set and end results were tallied in the Online program. Pre Fair Livestock Project book judging was scheduled by a doodle poll this year, with good participation.
- 498 Booth Cards were printed for all 4-H Youth completing their projects with participation ribbons and grade ribbons attached.
- 8 livestock show bills were prepared for dairy, goat, lamb, hog, market steer, feeders, poultry and rabbits for showmanship and then for breeding and market classes.
- The sale bill was prepared for 177 animals with the total amount received from the sale being approximately $230,000.
- All ribbons left in stock have been counted and inventoried so we are prepared to place our order for next year’s judging.
- 35 soil samples were processed.
- 4 farmers were given assistance with farm loans, tax status, and new home construction soil samples 24 Farm Science Review tickets were sold, balance returned and money reconciled.
- All e-reports are completed, reconciled and filed. All bank reconciliations are up to date. Both balance with our QuickBooks reporting system.
- We applied and received a Pcard for a more convenient method of payment. All trainings were attended and completed successfully.
Misc. Stats and Information
- The office staff held a Holiday Program last November with the theme “Oh Hol(l)y Night”. It was attended by 24 participants. We also provided a portion of our program to the Meigs County Health Department holiday office party and 15 employees attended. With careful planning we made a profit of $56.95.
- The building had a summer youth employee, which we were able to utilize this year with the help of the Meigs County Commissioners. The program is through Job and Family Services. The county pays the worker each payday and at the end of the season Job and Family Services completely reimburses them for the wages, payroll taxes and benefits. The worker was onsite for approximately 11 weeks.
- Our building was inspected by Workers Comp Safety Management. We had a few violations, including the copier needing to be moved. I cleaned and reorganized and was able to move the copier to a suitable location, contacted the telephone company and the internet provider to have all lines moved so copier was up and running. We have also consolidated our storage to accommodate needs from Board of Elections.
- The front office is the first contact for many telephone and walk in clients. Over 400 calls/walk-ins have been forwarded to staff in 2017. SNAP-Ed Program Assistants- approximately 55, 4-H and Youth Development – around 110 and Agriculture and Natural Resources – roughly 140.