Extension, county to weigh job cut

Posted Nov. 04, 2009, at 8:48 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — University of Maine Cooperative Extension officials and Piscataquis County commissioners plan to meet in the near future to discuss the proposed elimination of county funding for an Extension clerical position.

Paul Matulis, an Extension executive committee member, suggested to commissioners Tuesday that there are a number of ways the county could restore the proposed $25,850 cut in the Extension budget. The commissioners have proposed to continue to fund about $90,000 in costs for Extension that includes the entire overhead of the local office, from rent to postage.

“We’ve got a lot of different ways that we thought about where we could cut this and transfer this over here, it all depends upon both of us working on it,” Matulis said. “It’s a joint problem.”

Although Matulis was joined at the meeting by several Extension associates, and Tuesday’s agenda included time for a discussion on the matter, Matulis asked for a forum outside the meeting to discuss the matter. It was suggested that a meeting be arranged with County Manager Marilyn Tourtelotte.

John Rebar, statewide director of Cooperative Extension, said the university has appreciated the partnership it has with Piscataquis County for 95 years. “That’s something we don’t want to see go by the wayside without actively trying to preserve it for the best interest of your county,” Rebar said. He said the university has tried to prioritize the most rural areas of the state where there are fewer resources to protect them from the impact of university budget cuts.

“I think there is the potential for common ground here,” Commissioner Tom Lizotte said. “We’d like to continue the services that the Extension provides, if possible.”

The public hearing on the proposed county budget is Nov. 16 in Dover-Foxcroft and the budget is expected to be adopted by mid-December, Lizotte noted.

Also on Tuesday, the commissioners voted to submit a federal energy-efficiency and conservation block grant application on behalf of the Charlotte White Center.

Richard Brown, the center’s chief executive officer, said the agency has developed a weatherization and energy audit business and the grant, which has to be filed by a governmental agency, would allow the center to purchase a vehicle and equipment.

The agency initially developed the business to audit the approximately 23 properties it owns, as well as two rental properties, but has since branched out. Brown told the commissioners the center was awarded a contract by the social services agency Penquis to do low-income housing. The business revenue will help support the center’s social service programs.

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