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Iowa State University Extension

Three counties approve extension referendum


Citizens in Dubuque, Lucas and Palo Alto counties voted to increase the maximum tax levy rate that may be used to fund local county extension programs. The extension referendum was on the ballot Nov. 2 in five of 100 county districts (Pottawattamie County is divided into two districts). Ninety-four county extension districts already had passed the measure in previous general elections.

“We sincerely appreciate the support we received from county residents who worked to pass the referendum,” said Mark Settle, Communications and External Relations director for Iowa State University Extension. “County campaign committees staffed by local volunteers informed citizens about the issue.”

In counties that pass the referendum, locally elected extension councils have additional tax monies available to maintain and expand county extension programs. Individual county extension councils may choose to expand programs for youth, families, agriculture, business and industry or communities.

“I am encouraged that citizens in three more counties have passed the referendum, said Gerald Miller, interim vice president for ISU Extension and Outreach. “The elected extension councils in these counties now will have more resources to provide ISU Extension programs that improve quality of life for Iowa families, communities and business.”

The increase in the maximum tax levy rate is based on each county’s population. In counties that approved the referendum, the annual property taxes could increase an average of less than 10 cents per $1,000 of valuation. The increase may be even less because counties are not required to budget the legal maximums. Each year, the locally elected county extension council sets the budget to fit the needs of the county.

In counties in which the referendum failed, the law requires that the levy and maximum revenue limits for extension be frozen at 1985 funding levels. Districts that didn’t participate in the referendum or voted down the referendum may request that it be placed on the election ballot in 2012.

The referendum failed in Warren and West Pottawattamie counties.

This article appeared in November 2010 -- From Jerry Miller Newsletter