The shortfall has left 31 vacancies among 411 county agent jobs. Two years ago, there were 20 vacancies, Jimmy Henning told Bruce Schreiner of The Associated Press. Henning is the associate dean for extension in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. The peak number of vacancies, 60, came in 1994, Henning said.
Some vacancies may not be filled for two years, causing counties to chose whether or not to leave positions empty or temporarily pick up the state's share of the payroll. So far, 14 counties have taken the latter route, expediting hiring of 15 agents. Those counties, whick previously contributed $5.5 million to these salaries, will be contributing $7.3 million in 2011. (Read more)