September 16, 2015 Edition

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Extension Service
faces $40k deficit

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

Lawrence County Extension Service Staff Chair Herb Ginn came before the quorum court during Monday night's meeting with concerns over a nearly $40,000 deficit the Extension is facing.

Ginn said that due to the county funding plan passed in 2002, there is a set minimum flat rate contribution from each county based on the number of county agents and paraprofessionals. However, the plan didn't have a mechanism to adjust the rate for inflation.

The Extension is looking at a $39,475 deficit. Ginn said they have looked into options with the state but no assistance seems to be available. He asked justices to consider the extension as the county plans its 2016 budget.

County Judge Dale Freeman said he wanted Ginn to present the issue to the court now to allow the Extension to be considered during the budgeting process.

"Farming is the backbone of Lawrence County," Freeman said.

Ginn said if the deficit cannot be offset, the Extension will lose one of its agents and the 4-H program will be cut.

Justice Jim Jones said he hates to see this happen but the county is already running on a tight budget and he's not sure the money will be available. "We all know the benefit," he said. "We appreciate what you do."

Also at the meeting, Justices discussed having the SouthBuild Team meet with various local groups and organizations with information about the new jail.

Ginn also announced that the University of Arkansas, who partners with the Extension, is willing to print informative fliers about the jail and sales tax.

"It will be neutral, but it will take out the fear factor, and then with the information they'll know the advantages and disadvantages."

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