CLINTON — Clinton County voters will find a brief referendum question near the end of their ballot on Tuesday.

It says: “Shall the Clinton County Agricultural Extension District be subject to a change in the annual tax levy for Extension education purposes?”

Posted inside the polling booth will be the full text of the proposition.

The gist of the text is a proposal to allow the Iowa State University Clinton County Extension Council to levy a tax of 13.5 cents per $1,000 property valuation. The present levy for Extension purposes is 7 cents.

That levy has not been changed in 24 years. Meanwhile, the “agricultural” Extension service has developed a major presence in the city of Clinton, providing services to youths, economic development and Master Gardeners, among other things.

The current income from the levy has been approximately $112,000 a year, although the annual operating budget has actually been about $180,000 including registration fees, user fees and grants, according to Alan Tubbs, part of the citizen group lobbying for passage of the referendum.

Extension council members say if the referendum does not pass (it was defeated in 2002 and 2004) there will have to be cuts in staff and programs.

The proposition sets a maximum of $265,500 to be raised by the tax, but the county budget director told the Herald a 13.5-cent levy on the current taxable valuation of Clinton County would bring in only $221,913.

So that is the most the Extension service would receive beginning July 1, 2007. Then the referendum provides for an increase of up to $9,000 a year (a levy of one-half cent, according to the budget director) until the $265,500 maximum is reached.

Why in the city of Clinton?

Here are some of the things the Extension service provides in Clinton:

• Provides staff and curricula for after-school, in-school and Summer Discovery programs. Extension is responsible for 105 hours of teaching time this school year at Jefferson, Whittier, Bluff and Horace Mann elementary schools and Washington Middle School.

• Provides data to create jobs, enrich lives of youths, enhance lives of families, ensure the future of agriculture and work with many partners to help make Clinton County a better place.

• Worked with Clinton Community College, Clinton Trees Forever and Bickelhaupt Arboretum to present Horticulture in the Heartland, serving 170 attendees.

n Provided eight approved workshops during the last two years for child care professionals to meet Iowa licensure requirements.

• Sponsors the Master Gardeners program throughout the county. Last year 93 Master Gardeners provided 3,700 volunteer hours giving programs, answering questions and providing service to local historic sites, schools, nursing homes and various community projects.

• Teaches Lincoln High School students about identity theft and budgeting.

• Works with Eastern Iowa Job Training to help workers manage finances between jobs.

• Teaches youths about horticulture and science using the Growing in the Garden program. School gardens have been established in Clinton, DeWitt, Delmar, Calamus and Goose Lake.

• Taught 2,300 youths last year about science, food and nutrition, nature and technology through in-school and after school programs.

• Reached 150 youths in Clinton and 156 in DeWitt, Grand Mound and Camanche through summer science education programs.

• Teaches senior citizens how to navigate the Internet.

• Hosts non-profit management workshops.

• Provides workshops for new acreage owners.

Who are the leaders?

The Clinton County Agricultural Extension Council is made up of nine people elected by the voters of Clinton County — four one year and five the next year.

Members from the city of Clinton are Maudi Walton, Allan Rathje and Rhonda Boothby.

Boothby is on the ballot for re-election this year.

Other current members are Tori Grantz, Cindy Corson, Allan Rogis and Dan Smicker of DeWitt, Ron Bormann of Charlotte and Kurt Olson of Grand Mound.

Of those, Grantz, Smicker, Bormann and Rogis are on the ballot.

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