County to drop funding for CCE

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County legislators are planning not to fund Cornell Cooperative Extension of Fulton and Montgomery Counties when 2013 ends.

Fulton County’s current three-year contract with the association authorized in December 2010 provided the extension $80,000 for 2011, $60,000 for 2012, and an amount submitted by the extension for reimbursement to solely administer the Fulton County 4-H program.

The Board of Supervisors’ Finance Committee heard Thursday at the County Office Building the 4-H clubs’ amount for 2013 ended up being $65,922.

At the time in 2010, supervisors indicated they were scaling down their payments to the now Canajoharie-based extension as part of several cuts to outside agencies for 2011.

But county Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch told the committee Thursday she received a June 2 letter from part-time extension Executive Director Brian Gilchrist seeking “guidance for future funding” for the association.

Kuntzsch said the extension wants “direction and consideration for continued funding” from Fulton County.

Montgomery County provides more than $100,000 annually to the extension, extension board past President David Dybas said Friday.

Gilchrist’s letter stated, in part: “I am writing on behalf of our board of directors to seek guidance on future funding for Cornell Cooperative Extension. It is our hope that we can continue the positive relationship we have had with Fulton County and continue to offer valuable programs to all residents of Fulton County. However, we need financial support from the county in order to continue to offer these programs.”

Gilchrist was unavailable for comment Friday.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said three years ago, supervisors had the thought of “phasing out” contributions to the extension after 2013.

“It was a tough decision the entire board made,” recounted committee Chairman Jack Callery.

Kuntzsch said the board in 2010 thought the figure for the 4-H clubs’ amount for 2013 – ultimately $65,922 – “would be a much lower number.”

“This is a financial decision we made before,” said Bleecker Supervisor David Howard.

The committee approved a motion to follow the board’s action from 2010, which determined there would be “no consideration” given to Fulton County providing future funding to the extension beyond 2013. The same motion also included language stating the Finance Committee does not anticipate funding the extension for 2014 or beyond.

The committee reaffirmed what the board did in 2010, so the motion doesn’t require new full board approval, county officials said.

Extension board President Russell Kelly couldn’t be reached Friday.

But Dybas said the Fulton County Finance Committee action Friday was “quite a surprise.” He said cooperative extension provides Fulton County aid through nutrition programs that keep residents off social services. He said the 4-H program also provides Fulton County’s youth with many services.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

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