The Antelope County Extension office is asking the county to approve the hiring of an additional staff person, which would allow for more focus on 4-H programs.
Extension representatives were asked to present information on Tuesday regarding their budget by Supervisor Greg Koinzan. Ron Wilke, who serves as the Ag/Horticulture Extension Associate, addressed the board with the reasoning behind the request of an additional $30,000.
This would be for hiring another staff person that would serve as the office manager and handle the clerical needs of the office. Currently, Tessa Hain is filling that role along with being the Extension Assistant. She would like to be primarily focused on meeting the needs of 4-H kids instead.
Hain explained that Bonnie Wilke was the previous office manager and Anita Hall was the 4-H person, but office positions have changed.
“When Bonnie left, I kind of combined that spot and Anita took on a different role,” Hain said, "So I was pretty much 100 percent office and 100 4-H. As you know, that’s 200 percent. That’s kind of a little much to take on.”
Wilke said, “That’s not possible. She (Tessa) can’t get to the youth with the 4-H programming in the 10 core project areas that 4-H has."
He also pointed out that this is the first time in 13 years that their budget would have changed. Wilke clarified the funding and said the extension office is asking for an additional $20,000 for the individuals wage - or $12 per hour - for a 32 hour work week.
Wilke explained that they needed a person who is tech savvy and is very personable and loves people and children. The position would include managing their social media and working with video, along with the clerical and administrative duties.
“For Tessa to do that, it’s going to steal from her 4-H program,” he said.
When Koinzan asked if the person would have benefits, Wilke responded that they would.
“In order to get the person with qualifications that we know we need there, we most likely would need to offer a benefit package,” Wilke said.
He went on to say he proposed the county stay at the $20,000, but that they planned to spend less than that. They planned to start the person at around $10 for a probationary period. They said the funding needed this year would more than likely be closer to $13,000, because it would more than likely take them until November.
Koinzan asked, “Is there an iron clad rule that says we can’t start at part time?”
He went on to say that sometimes if you "hire the right part-time person that job can grow into a full-time position.”
“I want to be accountable,” Koinzan said, “We’re in charge of spending this money for these people. That’s our main role.”
Koinzan asked if a part-time position instead would be non-negotiable.
Wilke said, “I don’t know of any of us who are using tax funds can say ‘absolutely not’ because everything is negotiable. Is part-time better then nothing? Yes.”
Supervisors said they still felt a full-time position would be needed. He also reminded the board that Hain does not receive county benefits because she receives insurance elsewhere.
Wilke said the extension office wants to be accountable as well.
“We don’t want someone down there, obviously, hired if they’re not busier than daylights,” Wilke said.
Hain expressed her appreciation to the board for allowing them to come up and present.
“I know it's a lot of money to ask for, but it's for (hiring) one person. And it’s for the youth,” she said.
There are still other budget issues that have been tabled and will be discussed at the Sept. 8 supervisor meeting. The extension office will be notified by Sept. 5 of the board’s decision.