CLINTON — After twice defeating it, Clinton County voters approved a referendum Tuesday that will increase taxes collected for the Clinton County Agricultural Extension District for Extension education purposes.

The measure to allow the Iowa State University Clinton County Extension Council to levy a tax of 13.5 cents per $1,000 property valuation garnered 7,177 yes votes and 4,667 no votes — passing with 60.6 percent voter approval.

“We’re pleased the voters saw the need to support extension programs for our youths and the programs that serve a much broader constituency,” Al Tubbs, a member of the citizen group that lobbied for the passage of the referendum, said this morning. “We’re very pleased with the outcome.”

The present levy for Extension purposes is 7 cents; that levy has not been changed in 24 years. Current income from the levy has been approximately $112,000 a year, although the annual operating budget actually has been about $180,000 including registration fees, user fees and grants, according to Tubbs.

The proposition sets a maximum of $265,500 to be raised by the tax, but the county budget director has said a 13.5 cent levy on the current taxable valuation of Clinton County would bring in only $221,913. That is the most the Extension service would receive beginning July 1. 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.

Extension programs provide services to youths, such as through 4-H, enhances economic development, fosters the Master Gardener program and provides training for local farmers.

Extension council members said if the referendum did not pass — it was defeated in 2002 and 2004 — there would have been cuts in staff and programs.

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