By Nancy McGill
The Thayer County Commissioners sidestepped a request by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to fund the Extension associate position.
As UNL attempted to ease 44 counties into paying for the position over a period of four years, the Thayer and Nuckolls county commissioners were the only two counties that hadn’t signed an agreement.
The Fillmore County Board discussed UNL’s plan as early as their Sept. 22, 2015 meeting, showing UNL was planning to fund the position 80 percent in 2016; 55 percent for 2017; 30 percent for 2018; and for 2019, the position would be fully funded by the county.
The plan saw UNL shifting funds to boost the 4-H program in metropolitan counties.
That was one concern the Thayer commssioners had. The other was property taxes. If the county paid the extension associate salary and benefits of approximately $62,000 a year, they would have to take a look at property taxes.
As UNL presented its idea to the Thayer commissioners, a May meeting had to relocate to a county courtroom because the Nuckolls commissioners, Dean of Extension Chuck Hibberd and Dave Varner of the Southeast Extension, extension board members and residents from both counties attended.
According to the minutes, UNL said educators would become more specialized. Educators in Thayer County would cover classes in other counties, including Gage, Webster, Saline and Clay while another educator would come into Thayer from another county to hold classes.
It would free up funding for UNL, which intends to saturate the metropolitan counties to grow the 4-H program.
The commissioners from Nuckolls were also concerned, the minutes stated.
“Commissioners from both counties voiced concerns in how this program was presented, especially when 90 percent of changes have been implemented before they were advised of the proposed changes,” the minutes read.
Commissioner Dean Krueger said UNL wants at least 50 percent 4-H participation in the metro areas.
“Thayer has 63 percent. Nuckolls has 52 percent,” Krueger said.
The commissioners went into closed session to discuss the matter because it involved personnel.
About two weeks later, the commissoners were informed UNL withdrew its request.
Meanwhile, the commissioners did have to authorize more funds for flood damage.
The latest round of federal aid repairs that are fully reimbursed are six miles east of Bruning on Road 6800 for a $12,930; half a mile west of Belvidere on Road T for $11,440; and south of Deshler on Road 5400 for $30,223.