ESCANABA - The Delta County Board of Commissioners has approved an agreement to consolidate Michigan State University Extension offices in Delta, Menominee and Dickinson counties.
The Tri-County Michigan State University Extension agreement joins together the Delta, Menominee, and Dickinson County Extension offices in one combined central location.
"This is the culmination of a long research process with Dickinson and Menominee (counties) regarding the consolidation of the MSU offices into one office," said Viau.
The proposal has not been approved by the Dickinson County Board of Commissioners, which is necessary to complete the agreement.
The consolidated operation would be located on the jointly-owned Pinecrest property in Powers. According to a joint memo to each of the three county board of commissioners from their county administrators, MSUE has realigned its focus and service delivery for the entire state as part of ongoing efforts for efficiency of scale and cost containment over the last several years.
"The proposed consolidation is the first step toward the process of change and financial survival," reads the memo, saying the administrators believe a consolidated office is a win-win situation for MSU in reduction of costs, and for taxpayers since "the joint operation will cost them less and more staff will be readily available and open for business."
MSUE is aimed to help people improve their lives through initiatives in the following four Extension Educational Program Institutes: Enhancing Michigan's First Green Industry - Agriculture & Agribusiness, Preparing Michigan's Children & Youth for the Future, Greening Michigan - Leveraging Natural and Human Assets for Prosperity, and Improving the Health & Nutrition of Michigan's Residents.
In addition to providing the office space on Pinecrest property in Powers, the agreement says the three counties will provide a combined appropriation of $100,000, which includes $50,000 from Delta County and $25,000 each from Dickinson and Menominee counties for the operation and staffing of the office.
Viau said this will be an approximate $10,000 cost-savings in the appropriations for each county.
"By that token, MSU would be saving more money in that they wouldn't have to maintain three separate telephone systems, three separate resources," she said. She also noted that office hours would be increased due to more personnel coverage in the office.
The agreement notes that MSU annual appropriation funds will cover salary and fringe for educators, 4-H coordinators and any clerical staff; travel required by academic educators and paraprofessional staff, including the 4-H coordinators and any clerical staff; computers; land line phone and cell phone costs; expenses associated with programmatic work; all office operating expenses including copier maintenance, software maintenance, computer installation and repair; and high speed Internet connection monthly fees.
The county is expected to provide the appropriation for MSU to operate at Pinecrest; office space and corresponding rental fee for the office; utilities for office space; housekeeping and maintenance for the office space; and a parking area and snow removal.
The board unanimously authorized approval of the agreement from Oct. 1, 2012 to Sept. 30, 2013, pending approval in Menominee and Dickinson counties.