Ashland will vote on extension service district

Ashlanders will be included in a vote on whether to form a Jackson County 4-H, Master Gardener and agricultural extension service district.

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners plans to place the issue before county voters on the May 2014 ballot.

Ashland city councilors unanimously agreed last week to allow city residents to vote on the issue. If they hadn't, Ashland would not have been included in the district if it passed.

The district would cost up to 5 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value.

The owner of a home assessed at $245,000 — the median in Ashland — would pay $12.25 per year. The owner of a home assessed at $158,800 — the median in Jackson County — would pay $7.94 annually.

Master Gardener, 4-H and agricultural extension service programs have faced a loss of county government funding.

The extension service, which is affiliated with Oregon State University, has staff members around the state who work on 4-H and Master Gardener programs.

The extension service also helps farmers, ranchers, vineyard owners, orchardists, forest owners, fishermen, artisan food producers and others.

Additionally, it has a variety of health and nutrition programs.

A levy of 5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value would raise about $804,800 to offset a $102,102 cut from Jackson County; restore positions and materials that were cut; fund new positions, travel and training; and provide maintenance and other services.

A proposed budget for the district shows funding to pay for a land-steward coordinator, Master Gardener coordinator, 4-H program assistant and a building and property manager, along with an office assistant. Money from the proposed service district also would cover supplies, reference materials, delayed maintenance at the center, as well as county fair judges and prizes now paid for by the county.

The ballpark budget adjustments show $207,000 is proposed for personnel, with about $93,000 for maintenance, materials and additional expenses.

Extension officials emphasized the numbers presented to the county commissioners last month are preliminary and likely will be adjusted later.

Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.


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