JOHNSTOWN - Fulton County supervisors on Monday voted narrowly to continue subsidizing Cornell Cooperative Extension of Fulton and Montgomery Counties for two more years, even though the county previously decided to discontinue funding by the end of this year.
The Board of Supervisors voted 11-9 by regular vote, which translated to a 311-240 weighted vote, to authorize a three-year contract with the Extension. The county will allocate $40,000 for 2014 for "various public benefit services;" $20,000 for 2015; and a zero funding "full phase-out of subsidies" by 2016.
The Fulton County board indicated in 2010 - as part of a general cost-saving move - the county might not extend funding to the extension past Dec. 31. But supervisors this year reconsidered.
"The board has determined that a three-year contract would serve the best interest of economy and efficiency and provide Cornell Cooperative Extension with a forecast of future subsidies available," according to the resolution approved Monday at the County Office Building.
Fulton County appropriated $65,922 this year to the Extension.
Montgomery County's appropriation is $72,000. Montgomery County plans to continue the same level of funding in 2014, said Montgomery County Treasurer Shawn Bowerman.
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Extension Executive Director Brian Gilchrist on July 30 asked the Fulton County Board of Supervisors' Economic Development and Environment Committee to continue the county's allocation beyond this year. He couldn't be reached this morning.
Major Extension costs covering the two counties' services are for programs involving 4-H, dairy field and crops, nutrition and horticulture. In addition to the sponsoring counties' funding, the agency's major sources of income include federal and state money, private grants and enrollment fees.
Fulton County supervisors on Monday mostly discussed whether it was wise to continue to fund the Canajoharie-based Extension after the county indicated three years ago it was dropping the subsidy after 2013.
Broadalbin Supervisor Joseph DiGiacomo said he opposed funding the Extension in 2010. He questioned whether the agency is even active in his town.
"I really oppose to this," said Johnstown 3rd Ward Supervisor Jack Callery. "It was supposed to be over in 2013."
Callery said the county reviewed outside agencies in 2010, and Monday's action was against what the county did then.
Northampton Supervisor Linda Kemper agreed with Callery, saying approval of more Extension funding sets a "precedent" and is "poor policy."
"I think it's making a poor practice and statement to all the other agencies and entities for which we have discontinued funding," she said.
Gloversville 1st Ward Supervisor Marie Born asked what happens in 2016, speculating whether the board then will decide again to continue Extension funding.
"I think we are wrong to put [extension funding] back in," she said.
Michael Anich can be reached at email@example.com.