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MailTribune.com
  • Ashland backers seek agricultural district funds

  • Ashlanders will have a chance to vote on whether to approve an agricultural extension service district if supporters can get a funding measure on the May 2014 ballot.
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  • Ashlanders will have a chance to vote on whether to approve an agricultural extension service district if supporters can get a funding measure on the May 2014 ballot.
    District tax revenues would support 4-H, Master Gardeners and the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center in the wake of Jackson County funding cuts this year.
    City councilors unanimously agreed Tuesday to let residents vote on the issue.
    Backed by the Friends of Research and Extension, the district would cost 5 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value if approved. That would cost the owner of a home assessed at $158,800 — the median in Jackson County — $7.94 per year. In Ashland, the owner of a home assessed at the median of $245,000 would pay $12.25 annually.
    City Councilor Carol Voisin said 4-H programs benefit youths, senior citizens and others enjoy Master Gardeners programs, and the agricultural extension service helps farmers.
    "I think this is one of the most important districts we could allow our citizens to vote on," Voisin said.
    Jackson County commissioners decided in May to provide only six months of support to the Oregon State University Extension Service — $102,102 — to help shore up a $6.7 million budget gap in the county's general fund for 2013-14. Libraries, the Sheriff's Department, health and human services and other departments also saw cutbacks.
    Supporters of an extension service funding district acknowledged there could be competition on the May 2014 ballot.
    Special funding also could be sought by supporters of county libraries and historical societies that are faced with budget woes.
    Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-479-8199 or by email at vlaldous@yahoo.com.
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