CCE to reduce staff, hours after budget cuts
By Dan Hust
LIBERTY March 29, 2013 Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) is launching a public fund drive to stave off potentially deep impacts from a 20 percent cut in its contract with Sullivan County.
“We need immediate help from families, farmers, homemakers and everyone touched by Cooperative Extension if we want to keep providing services at the same level,” said CCE Board President Joan Howard in a press release issued Wednesday.
“We’re talking about our core, traditional areas of 4-H, agriculture, and family and consumer science,” she added. “We know times are tough for everyone, but please consider making a special donation at this time.”
The loss of $83,000 from the county made official by a majority vote of legislators last week compounds an additional loss of $33,000 from the federal government, putting CCE in a severe cash crunch.
“I am not prepared to cut any one program right now,” remarked Executive Director Greg Sandor in the release. “Instead, I am planning on reducing staff hours across the board including my position and then we will spend the next month looking closely at each program.”
Starting in mid-April, 13 employees will have to take one day a week off without pay, meaning that all CCE programs and activities at its center in Liberty will be suspended one day a week, as well.
After 30 days, CCE’s board will review the issue to determine if additional cuts are necessary.
Without a replacement for those lost funds, CCE officials are worried they will not be able to move forward with a commercial kitchen, greenhouse demonstration, maple syrup production and woodlot management projects.
Additionally, a $50,000 state grant to improve CCE’s building (which would include cost-saving energy efficiencies for Sullivan County, which owns the structure) may be at risk, as CCE must spend the money first, then be reimbursed something Extension is not currently in a fiscal position to do.
So instead of kicking off a Centennial Year Fund Drive for CCE’s 100th anniversary next year, Extension is launching an emergency appeal this June.
Donations will be used to bring back the staff and office hours to five days a week. Once that goal is reached, additional donations will help revive now-suspended programs.
“If 1,000 people donate $100 each, it will keep staff on full-time and our doors open five days a week for the rest of the year, giving us time to seek additional resources,” said Sandor.
While the fund drive has yet to officially begin, CCE is accepting donations: in person at the office on Ferndale-Loomis Road (near BOCES) in Liberty, via the PayPal button on its website of www.sullivancce.org, or via checks mailed to CCE, 64 Ferndale-Loomis Rd., Liberty, NY 12754.
Those with questions and concerns are welcome to meet with members of CCE’s board at the center on Ferndale-Loomis Road (near BOCES) in Liberty on Tuesday, April 2 from 2-5 p.m. They can also call 292-6180 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are committed to continuing to provide the great resources of Cornell University to Sullivan County,” Sandor affirmed. “We will not waiver on this.”