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KSRE Employee Resources

EXTENSION ADMINISTRATIVE HANDBOOK - KANSAS STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINIONS

Chapter 1 Section D8. Approval of Budgets for County Extension Councils and Determining Agent Salaries (1982)


To:     Mrs. Kay Homewood, Chairman
          Russell County Extension Council

Re:    Agriculture — County Agricultural Extension Councils,
         Board and Agents — Compensation of Extension Service Agents

Synopsis: K.S.A. l98l Supp. 2-6l0(d) requires that the executive board of the county extension council prepare an annual budget in cooperation with the board of county commissioners and the director of extension of Kansas State University. K.S.A. 1981 Supp. 2-615 requires that compensation of county extension service agents be determined by the executive board of the county extension council and the director of extension or the director’s authorized representative. By implication, K.S.A. l98l Supp. 2-615 does not allow a board of county commissioners to place limits on the salaries of county extension service agents as part of the budget approval process. Cited herein: K.S.A. l98l Supp. 2-610, 2-615.

You inquire of this office whether the executive board of the county extension council or the board of county commissioners has the authority to determine the salaries of county extension agents. You indicate in your correspondence, dated July l4, l98l, that the budget process has generally followed a pattern where the executive board and a representative of the extension service from Kansas State University met and prepared a budget proposal. The proposal is then submitted to the board of county commissioners for approval. If the budget proposal is not approved, revisions are made by the executive board in an effort to reach agreement with the board of county commissioners. Prior to approval of the 1982 budget the Board of County Commissioners of Russell County stipulated that county extension agents be limited to a maximum annual salary of $26,000.

K.S.A. 1981 Supp. 2-615 states in pertinent part as follows:
“The executive board of the county extension council and the director of extension, or the director’s authorized representative, shall appoint a county extension agent and determine the amount of the extension agent’s compensation.”

The language of K.S.A. 1981 Supp. 2-615 requires that salaries paid to county extension agents be determined by the executive board of the county extension council and the director of extension or a representative of the director. Therefore, the salary limitation imposed by the board of county commissioners is not statutorily authorized, and consequently, lacks the force of law. The budget document prepared by the three statutorily-designated parties does not limited authority conferred by K.S.A. l98l Suppl. 2-615, except as to the total amount made available to the council from the tax levy authorized by K.S.A. l98l Supp. 2-610. The distribution of funds appropriated to the extension council pursuant to K.S.A. l98l Suppl. 2-6l0 is the responsibility of the executive board and the director of extension. Therefore, in our judgment the agreement between the Board of County Commissioners, the executive board, and the representative of the director of extension limiting salaries for the l982 budget has no legal effect and is not enforceable.

A similar situation was addressed in Attorney General Opinion No. 79-ll3 wherein it was determined that a resolution enacted by the Board of County Commissioners of Shawnee County, Kansas, improperly infringed on statutorily conferred power of other elected county officials. The resolution in question had the effect of interfering with the statutorily conferred authority of certain elected county officials to appoint employees to various positions. The opinion states in part:

“In conclusion, it is our opinion that the power of appointment which is statutorily vested in duty elected county officials carries with it an authority for office management which may not be directly abridged by a general resolution couched in the language of fiscal restraint, however well intentioned. The power of the board of county commissioners regarding the financial matters of the county is extensive; however, that power may not be exercised so as to impinge upon the statutory authority of other elected county officials.”

K.S.A. 1981 Supp. 2-6l0(d) states that budget preparation be a cooperative effort of the executive board, the board of county commissioners, and a representative of the Kansas State University extension service. K.S.A. l98l Supp. 2-6l0 required that the budget of the Agricultural Extension Council be approved by (l) the board of county commissioners, (2) the director of extension of Kansas State University or the director’s duly authorized representative and (3) the chairperson of the executive board of the county extension council, “acting as a body.” The process described in your correspondence where budget proposals are submitted to the board of county commissioners prior to final approval apparently satisfies the requirement that the budget be cooperatively prepared.

The implication of the statutory requirement of cooperation is that the parties will compromise on issues so that eventually a budget can be adopted that allows the county extension council to function as intended by the legislature. However, the board of county commissioners is not granted separate authority to withhold final approval of the budget as prepared by the executive board and Kansas State University’s extension representative where the board of county commissioners has cooperated in preparation of the budget pursuant to K.S.A. l98l Supp. 2-6l0(d). Indeed, assuming that the budget is cooperatively prepared by the three agencies acting as a body, it is not subject to revision by the board of county commissioners at the subsequent general budget hearing. State ex rel. v. Belt, l75 Kan. 330 (l953).

In summary, for two reasons the board of county commissioners is not allowed to unilaterally impose limits on salaries paid to county extension agents. First, K.S.A. l98l Supp. 2-615 requires that the executive board of the county extension council and the director of extension be responsible for determining the amount of extension agent’s compensation. Second, the cooperative budget preparation process required by K.S.A. l98l Supp. 2-610 and the Belt opinion do not allow revision of such cooperatively prepared budgets by the board of county commissioners at a subsequent regular budget hearing.

/S/ Robert T. Stephan, Attorney General
/S/ Robert Vinson Eye

March 8, 1982