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Palo Alto County Extension Referendum On Ballot

By Staff | Oct 28, 2010

When Palo Alto County voters go to the polls on Tuesday, not only will they cast votes for several political offices, but there will also be several non-partisan questions on the ballot. Among those non-partisan questions is a public referendum regarding the Palo Alto County Extension Council.

The question to be answered in the public referendum is simple.

“Shall the Palo Alto County Agricultural Extension District be subject to an annual tax levy for Extension educational purposes, which shall not exceed thirty cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation of the taxable property within the district up to a maximum revenue limit pursuant to Iowa Code Section 176A.10(1)(b)?” Yes or No.

The referendum is being sought by the Extension Council to provide additional funding for the continued operations of the Palo Alto County Extension Office along with programming offered through the office. With the reorganization of the Iowa State University Extension Service in 2008, Palo Alto County’s Extension Office, like many others in the state, saw several reductions. Most notably, the position of the County Extension Education Director was eliminated, with several county offices being combined into regional offices with a regional CEED to serve all of the offices.

As each county office was responsible for a portion of their CEED’s salary in a share agreement with Iowa State Extension, the reorganization did bring a cost reduction, but counties must still pay their fair share for the services and programs coming from Iowa State University Extension. Additionally, each county extension office must pay the salary of its’ own office staff, which in Palo Alto County, is comprised of the office assistant and the county 4-H and Youth Coordinator.

The costs of all programs offered through the county office, as well as expenses of operation, such as utilities, leases and such, are also borne by the Extension Council.

In Palo Alto County, the Extension Council has been receiving a budget appropriation of $75,000 yearly from the Board of Supervisors since 1986. Across the state of Iowa, other counties have placed similar referendum questions before their voters to allow for additional funding for Extension operations, and to date, Palo Alto County is one of four counties that have not approved the Extension referendum. Passage of the referendum would give the Extension Council the authority to levy that maximum amount, which could generate up to an additional $66,000 per year for the Palo Alto County Extension Service. However, the Extension Council would not have to levy that maximum amount of thirty cents per thousand it could be less.

According to figures supplied by the Iowa Department of Management, based on the maximum referendum amount of thirty cents per thousand, the approximate cost for a home valued at $100,000 would be $5.94 per year. For a home valued at $50,000, the rate would be $2.63 per year.

The Extension referendum appears on the November 2 ballot on the reverse side of the ballot, under the heading, Public Measure B.