DOVER, N.H. (AP) – Strafford County has notified the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension it will no longer contribute to the service’s funding.

The county is cutting its share on Jan. 1 to save about $200,000 as of cost-saving measure. The county provides 38 percent of the program’s operating budget, two administrative assistants and pays a portion of the salaries of five educators.

The rest of the program’s funding comes from the University of New Hampshire and federal grants. There are programs in all 10 counties.

“That would mean, of course, the support staff would be laid off and the services of the extension wouldn’t be available to Strafford County,” according to Geoffrey Njue, administrator for the Strafford County Cooperative Extension.

The cooperative extension provides residents with research-based education and information to strengthen youth, families and communities, sustain natural resources and improve the economy, said Njue. Programs in Strafford County include 4-H Youth Development, Forestry and Wildlife, Agricultural Resources, Nutrition Connections and Family and Consumer Resources.

George Maglaras, chair of the Strafford County Board of Commissioners, said cutting funding to the program was strictly a budgetary move.

“It’s a great organization. This is just one of these things. It’s a tight budget and the county has some tough decisions to make,” Maglaras said.

Maglaras said additional budget cuts will be made.

Maglaras said the county will allow the cooperative extension to continue using their offices at the county complex for free.

Paul Bonaparte-Krogh, assistant program director, said similar cuts have been proposed in other counties through the years but never happen.

“In other counties many have changed their minds and restored funding because of the community support,” he said. “We are hopeful but today the situation looks difficult. It will depend on the taxpayers who value the program and if they will speak up.”

Maglaras wouldn’t say if county commissioners would reconsider.

“I don’t like to speculate,” he said. “I’m sure there will a lot of lobbying for it because it’s a great service but the bottom line is, we can’t afford it.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.