August 22, 2023
Local Unit Extension Budgets Continue to Increase
Local extension units are in the middle of the budget approval process. County units have submitted their 2024 proposed budgets to county commissioners for approval. Extension districts are in the process of publishing and holding their public hearings for the ad valorem taxes they are requesting. It’s been an interesting couple years with new laws that have been put in place for taxing governmental bodies.
Revenue Neutral Rate (RNR) is a term that every Kansas taxing entity is navigating. In simple terms, it means any taxing entity has to follow legislative guidelines if increasing their mill levy request, including notification to taxpayers. Extension districts are directly affected because they are taxing entities, but county boards are affected indirectly through the RNR laws that county budgets must follow. So, no local unit is immune to the ramifications of the new Kansas statute.
There are 67 local extension units (21 extension districts and 46 counties) across Kansas. The agents and local staff are the direct connection to tens-of-thousands of Kansans via the local offices in every county. There are also thousands of volunteers that support these offices; elected board/governing body members, program development committee members, 4-H club and project leaders and master gardeners just to name a few. It’s easy to see that these ‘front doors’ to extension are extremely important components to the overall organization.
The funds to run these local offices are not often mentioned in detail across our organization, yet they are the single largest funding source of extension in Kansas. Just as important, they continue to increase year-after-year. The funding from local units in 2018 was $21,150,560. That has increased to $23,927,774 in 2023, an increase of $2,777,214 (13%) increase over five years in appropriated tax dollars.
But wait….there is more! Local units have also been increasing the amount of non-appropriated funds. These are funds that flow through the local extension budgets that are not tax dollars. Not all, but a large portion of this category are from grants, donations and fee generation. Five years ago the total amount across all local extension units was $3,845,984, and in 2023 that increased to $4,687,122. That’s an increase of $841,138 (21.8%). A big shout out to the agents and agent/specialist teams that have contributed to this success.
Overall, the local unit funding has been sustainable. With 67 local extension units, you can probably guess that some units make good financial progress and others have struggles. Our lowest supported budget gets an appropriation of about $83,000, while the local unit with the highest appropriation is at $1.3 million.
We are vastly different across the state, but should be proud of the continued support given to extension at the local county/district level. This is a reflection of every employee in our system. Well done K-State Research and Extension.