During Monday's discussion about whether or not to break the county hiring freeze and fill an educator's position in the county extension office, Commissioner Ed Coil pointed out that due to budget cutbacks, the highway department has lost seven employees in the past four years (largely by retirements) and only recently replaced one of them.
He also noted that each fulltime county employee is assisted in medical coverage by a $9,000 payment per year by the county, and that the county pays almost $100,000 to Purdue, about half the cost of operating the extension office.
Commissioner Doug Bauman added that proceeds from the County Economic Development Income Tax (CEDIT) are down, no miles of county roads will be prepared this year for chip-and-seal improvement in 2012, and the number of miles of road improved in 2010 was 20 fewer than in 2009 — all because of falling revenue.
"It's tough on all corners," said Bauman.
He went on to tell the extension service backers that "you don't have to convince me" of the importance of the extension office, since his four children were each in 4-H for 10 years and since he and Fruechte each were educators in the North Adams school district for 30 years or more.
Bauman reported that he called some members of the county council about this matter and said, "They're skeptical" about it.
Fruechte said he strongly supports the extension service and would vote to approve filling the vacancy, except Purdue has not responded to the commissioners' requests for information.
He said he is particularly interested in the extension office's assistance to youth, since the young "are the tax-based people down the road" who must find jobs and pay taxes to keep society functioning.
Fruechte said that, in his second year as a teacher, he was told by an older instructor that keeping one person off the public welfare rolls would equal Fruechte's pay for a year.
Bauman told the extension service supporters that they must "sell" their idea to the county council and remarked, "Purdue is messing you guys over, big time."
If the commissioners agreed break the county hiring freeze to fill the educator's position, county council would have to approve providing funds for a new person.