|An open letter to Leon County state and county lawmakers:
What are the long-term costs of:
These are among the questions posed by the possibility of county budget cuts in the wake of possible actions taken by this month’s special session of the Florida Legislature.
If it comes to cutbacks, these three issues no doubt have priority status among services that our community looks to government to maintain – whether it’s at the state or local level.
It stands to reason, therefore, that programs that aim to minimize the need for such costly remedial activities should be given priority, too. Such are the programs provided by the Leon County Cooperative Extension Service, which is jointly funded by both the state and county.
Among other things, Extension programs:
Give our youth options to develop self-reliance and citizenship skills through programs such as 4-H;
Help limited-income families stay healthy by better managing their nutrition and lifestyle choices though initiatives such as the Expanded Food and Nutrition Program; and
Teach homeowners and businesses how to minimize pollution by following environmentally sensitive landscape-management practices through program such as master gardener training.
By any measure, Leon County Extension is a good investment of local taxpayers’ money. The county puts up about $525,000 from Leon County. That amount is doubled by about $1.2 million in services and state and federal funds from the University of Florida.
The tax money doesn’t include the estimated $364,720 worth of volunteer services the talented Extension staff is able to attract to help their deliver services.
Last year, Leon County Extension helped more than 70,000 people find solutions — not counting thousands more reached through various media. Extension programs targeted and benefited families, businesses and the environment.
It would be a tragic irony, indeed, if the Florida Legislature were to undercut its own funding of Extension by taking action that would lead Leon County to cut its funding of Extension.
I’m proud to be one of many who contribute to the good work of Extension as a citizen volunteer. As a voter, I appreciate the support both the state and the county have given to Extension to date. I look forward to it continuing, and so should my fellow citizens.
Robert Douglas, President of the Master Gardeners Association of Leon County
1303 Leewood Drive
Tallahassee, FL 32312
Home phone: 850-877-3133
Cell phone: 561-317-4873