UG commissioners spare Extension of deep cuts
Despite originally planning for a $113,000 cut to their budget, the end of the tunnel for members of the K-State Research and Extension Office in Wyandotte County is a little brighter than expected — at least for the time being.
Though the 2011 budget approved by the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan., Board of Commissioners called for a 20 percent cut across the board to all Unified Government departments and outside agencies, Extension Office Director Bruce Chladny said public support had saved his staff from a cut that would have cost them their jobs.
“The original proposal was to reduce our budget (in 2011) by 20 percent, and then take an additional 20 percent next year,” Chladny said after the meeting in which the UG’s 2011 budget was approved. “They are holding us constant this (coming fiscal) year … The public came to our defense. The public came to the commissioners and said, ‘We value (the extension programs) and we don’t want them to go away.’ And the commissioners listened.”
Commissioner Tom Cooley, who was contacted after the meeting, said the decision to not cut the Extension Office was a combination of the public support and also the fact the cut might have meant a loss in jobs. He said the Unified Government staff had to look at each outside agency independently to determine how much their budgets were dependent on county funding.
“Obviously the commissioners are concerned about the impact that we have on these outside agencies, because some of them are very dependent on us,” Cooley said. “So we did not want to hurt the ones that were.”
The Extension Office will see a smaller cut of $33,000 in funds coming in from the Unified Government, Chladny said. But he said, with the funding that comes in from the state and through grants, the office would survive another year.
“Basically (what that smaller cut) does is that allows us to keep our employees for one more year,” Chladny said.
It is the 2012 budget year, Chladny said, the Extension Office has to worry about. He said he expected all of the funds in the extension office’s reserve to be used up this year, and he added that to keep staff members employed, the office would need to have available funds of $419,000.
It’s still too early to tell, he said, how much of that funding will come from the Unified Government.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “Pray for a goose with a golden egg.”