Council Manual Section 6: County Finance and Funding

County finance

Supplement: IMPACT leaflet No. 7,  Funding a County Extension Program

Extension council responsibilities

University of Missouri Extension is a cooperatively funded venture involving local (county), University (state) and federal (USDA) partners. Generally, the state and federal portions fund salaries and benefits for professional and educational assistant staff; training costs; specific program support, including certain equipment purchases, and administrative costs.

Extension councils are responsible for funding the county extension center from local funds.

State statutes provide for the following roles and responsibilities of extension councils:

  • Prepare an annual budget in cooperation with the county commissioners and University Extension prior to January 1. For first class counties, budget preparation is due prior to September 1.
  • Arrange for and administer the county's share of the expenses of the local extension program.
  • Set and arrange for the collection of fees for varied purposes, such as soil tests, resales, short course fees and others.
  • Receive or acquire real or personal property and hold or sell such property.
  • Accept contributions from private sources for use for extension purposes, such as grants and contracts, gifts and endowments.


A budget is developed to estimate expense and income needed to support delivery of programs and to determine fees for specific activities. A budget balances expenses and revenues.

  1. A county budget is a summary statement including all revenues and offsetting expenses under the control of the council, regardless of the purposes for which they will be used.

  2. A general operating budget is a statement of expenses and offsetting revenues required or available to support the core program, staff and center facilities. The GO budget reflects expenses from more than one account and revenues by source to cover these required and planned expenses only. The major revenue source for the GO budget is county appropriations.

  3. Service and support budgets are auxiliary budgets developed for each account or activity anticipating income and estimating expenses to guide the establishment of fees.

Due dates

The extension council, in consultation with the county program director and staff assigned to work in the county, should begin the budget preparation process in sufficient time to meet the required date for submission to the county commission. For first class counties, the deadline is September 1; for all other counties, the deadline is January 1.

Total budget needs

The major source of county extension funding is county appropriations. However, all counties have funding sources other than county tax dollars, such as grants, gifts and fees. The budget-building process needs to consider all sources of funding before finalizing the use of funds.

Funding guidelines

University of Missouri Extension maintains funding guidelines for use by extension councils in planning for and securing needed local financial support.

Budget committee

The budget planning process is aided by the use of a budget committee comprised of council members and the county program director. Many councils have found it advantageous to use council officers, including the treasurer and chair for this purpose.

Multiyear planning

University of Missouri Extension provides information and formats to assist councils in developing and maintaining multiyear budget projections. Multiyear plans assist in communicating future financial needs, without the urgency of the annual budget preparation and submission process.

Budget planning

The county extension budget is a program plan in financial terms showing the manner in which the extension program is to be pursued and supported. This important process should consider the following items and sources of information:

  1. County program plan;
  2. Multiyear financial plan;
  3. Special program needs;
  4. Building and equipment needs;
  5. Staffing (specialists, education assistants and clerical);
  6. University of Missouri Extension funding guidelines;
  7. County's financial situation; and
  8. Current financial statements.

Goals and objectives

Long-term goals and objectives should be considered along with immediate needs. The committee might feel it advisable to involve others in deliberations, such as 4-H councils, Missouri Association for Family and Community Education (MAFCE) councils, farm organizations, county commissions, chambers of commerce, and related organizations and agencies. These other sources can advise the committee of conditions and program needs in the county. Such discussions and deliberations need to take place prior to deciding on budget amounts.

At the appropriate time, the council or budget committee chairman should ask the county program director to present to the committee a budget format reflecting current annual budget year figures, current income and expense figures, and information on previous years.

Before proceeding further with the budget request, every member of the budget committee should become thoroughly familiar with these figures, what they represent and how they were developed. The budget committee should then prepare the "proposed budget" recommendation.

The budget request is built line by line. For example: What salaries are proposed for the clerical staff in the county office? What salaries are being proposed for comparable positions in other county government offices? Are postage rates scheduled to increase? Are mileage allowances going to increase? All these needs must be considered.

Full council approval

After the committee is satisfied with its recommendation, it should present the budget to the full council at a regular meeting. The public could be given copies of the recommendation and invited to comment. The budget committee should be prepared to explain its recommendations before the full council and staff. The budget request must reflect the needs of people in the county and the finances that are available.

After an opportunity for input, discussion and possible amendments, the council should adopt the final "budget request", at which time it becomes the council's budget for presentation to the county commission.

County commission

The budget committee should recommend who should make the formal presentation of the budget request to the county commission. However, the presenter must be totally familiar with the budget request and extension programs in the county. This individual should be well known to the commissioners and someone in whom they have confidence.

The budget may need to be adjusted after action by the commission. If so, the budget committee should prepare a revised budget and present it to the full council for action.

Accounting for expenditures

It is the council's responsibility to administer the local funds for the extension program in the county, including county appropriations and all other sources of revenues.

University of Missouri Extension provides and maintains a financial record-keeping system (computer- assisted or manual). The council treasurer, CPD and bookkeeper or secretary work together to initiate, record and report all financial transactions as approved by the council. The accounting manual and computer software are maintained in each office.

Annual financial report

Report of the past year's financial transactions is a required portion of the annual report to the county commission. This report is also helpful in planning each subsequent year's budget.

County Extension Council Funding Guidelines

Updated for 2016

Funding Extension work is a cooperative venture of federal, state and county governments as stated in both federal and state legislation. In addition councils have authority to secure funding support from numerous other sources such as grants, fees, other governmental units and contributions. Councils are encouraged to consider all viable sources of support, cash and in-kind, in arranging for the local portion of support for Extension programming. Councils are also encouraged to work with Extension faculty and staff toward developing a County Business Plan for achieving “target” support levels.

The following information and table is to assist county extension councils and Extension faculty and staff in planning for and securing needed financial support.  The table identifies “minimum” and “target” amounts of funding for various numbers (FTE) of professional positions to be headquartered in a given county.  Also noted is the recognized cost of supporting educational assistant positions.  In the final analysis, the fiscal objective must be to secure support, whether actual cash or in-kind, to allow faculty and staff to function at maximum effectiveness.

Cost Category and Criteria

Administrative support 

Effective operation of a county University of Missouri Extension Center and support for professional field faculty and program assistants requires access to support staff proficient in receptionist, secretarial, bookkeeping and office management skills. In order to provide adequate public service, county extension centers, where two or fewer specialists are officed, require at least one full-time administrative support position. Where three or more specialists are officed, additional administrative support is required. With the complexity of receptionist, secretarial, bookkeeping and office management functions to be performed, wage levels should be sufficient to retain staff in these positions over time.

In preparing budgets, planned costs for salaries and benefits may vary greatly from either the minimum or target amounts based upon actual salary rates and benefit costs.

It is the Councils responsibility to determine if they will offer any secretary benefits and to what extent it will fund the benefits.

If health insurance is offered, it is the Councils responsibility to contract with providers for employer-sponsored health insurance. 

University of Missouri Extension provides assistance to benefits eligible (75% or above) county office secretary benefits.  This includes a subsidy for secretary health benefits that is used toward employer-sponsored insurance premiums (subsidy amount varies year to year).  The health subsidy does count as part of the employer’s share to employer-sponsored health insurance. In order to receive the subsidy, a verification form must be sent to the County Secretary Benefit Administrator.   There are no retroactive subsidy payments.  Guidelines and forms are located at the County Secretary Benefit Programs website

In addition, as of January 1, 2015 Extension contributes 4% toward the secretary’s retirement program at no cost to the secretary or Council.  If the secretary contributes a minimum of $25 dollars to the retirement program, we will contribute an additional 3%.  The Council, at its own discretion, may also contribute to the retirement program.  Secretary and/or Council contributions must be reported on the Retirement Remittance Form (refer to website) and sent to the County Secretary Benefit Administrator by the 20th of each month in order to be deposited for that specific month.

The values for the 2016 clerical costs are based on studies of similar positions within the state of Missouri and were compared with the range of salaries paid to Extension Council Clerical positions across the state of Missouri in 2004.  The rates were adjusted for inflation each year since the study in 2004 through 2009; these figures were not inflated in 2010 and 2011 as the University like many employers provided no raises those years.  For 2012 and 2013 we inflated the rates by 2% and for 2014 and 2015 by 1%, which is less than inflation, but in recognition that even in the current tough economic environment we can’t indefinitely provide no raises.  For 2016, rates were increased by 1%.

In calendar year 2016 we will be providing additional funds to Councils who have a secretary enrolled in the secretary retirement program only (currently with Nationwide Retirement Solutions).  This additional sum is not meant to replace any funds the Council and/or Extension is currently contributing to the plan.  Councils will be required to request the funds using the Verification form. 

Councils with secretaries enrolled in employer-sponsored health insurance may use a portion of that subsidy (up to $150 a month) toward retirement or may elect to use the entire subsidy as the employer’s share of the health insurance premium.

We will be doing this subsidy due to cost savings.  It will not be a permanent change.


This expense category reflects funds to reimburse faculty and staff for official business use of a personal vehicle and for associated meals and lodging. It is recommended faculty and staff be reimbursed at the University approved rate. 

These resources are to support all faculty and staff members having program responsibilities in the county in carrying out programs associated with county plans of work.

University of Missouri Extension reimburses faculty and staff for travel expenses associated with participation in University of Missouri Extension authorized training, statewide committee work and other activities beyond the scope of county plans of work. 

Postage, Telephone and Connectivity

This expense category reflects the cost of an office telephone system, long-distance service and postage costs for mailings not allowable as official mail.  This item also includes the council portion of cost for Internet access services. University of Missouri Extension funds the majority of Internet access costs.

Supplies and materials 

This expense category reflects basic office and educational supplies and materials necessary to developing and delivering programs and supporting council operations. This item should include subscriptions to appropriate subject matter periodicals and needed reference materials. 


This expense category reflects the cost of regular maintenance, periodic replacement and insurance for council owned office and educational equipment.   University purchased/owned/inventoried equipment located in county offices is insured by University of Missouri Extension. 

Council operations  

This expense category reflects the cost of required surety bonds, election expenses, meeting and any other expenses necessary to the effective functioning of the council

Office facilities 

The County University of Missouri Extension Center and meeting facilities are generally provided as “in-kind” by county government and thus are not part of most council operating budgets.  If space is rented or owned, costs such as rent, janitorial service and utilities become part of the operating budget plan.  Whether provided in-kind, rented or owned, facilities arrangements should include maintenance, janitorial service, private offices for each specialist, reception and secretarial work areas and secure equipment and supply storage areas.  Facilities should be comparable to that occupied by other professionals in the community.  Each extension center should include a furnished conference room, at least large enough to accommodate meetings of the council. 

Multi-county staffing 

Most University of Missouri Extension regional specialists have multi-county responsibilities.  This expectation was considered in developing these criteria and should be considered by extension councils when developing budget plans. 

Support for program assistant positions

Many counties have program assistant type positions assigned for county specific programs. These positions may be council and/or University of Missouri Extension supported. Where supported by a council, operating budget plans need to include travel, communications, supplies, equipment, office space and clerical support.   

Where a council provides partial or total salary for a program assistant position, the pay rate should be at the same level as for similar University of Missouri Extension paid positions. Those education assistant type positions provided through funded programs such as Family Nutrition Education Program may not require direct cash support but generally do need adequate office and/or work space.


County Funding (DOCX) (Revised October 2014)
Document describes a process that should be followed to formally set out a plan for counties who are struggling to develop a sustainable strategy for program support in their county

2016 County Funding Guidelines Narrative (DOCX) 
Document describes the different cost elements in the guidelines

How to Use County Funding Documents (DOCX)
Document describes the use of the the “documents/tools” provided in assessing the county support situation

2016 County Council Funding Guide Spreadsheet (XLSX) 
Worksheet indicating levels of funding necessary to support a county operation based on the number of faculty housed there

2016 County Council Funding Assessment Tool (XLSX) 
Worksheet to be used to assess the overall health of the county operation on the broader scale of support versus just funding

MU Extension County Council Business Plan (DOCX)
Template for creating the County Council Business Plan

2016 Average Compensation Costs (XLSX)
Average compensation costs for regional faculty and staff