Internet connectivity charges and mail allotment
Toward the middle to end of September each year, counties can expect to receive a letter indicating the amount of the annual mail allotment less the annual connectivity charges.
Internet connectivity charges
Yearly, an amount equaling $100 per specialist position plus $200 flat connectivity fee per county will be charged to that county. For county offices who have their own connectivity, the per specialist rate will be charged but not the flat fee. This yearly charge will not be invoiced but be part of the mail allotment funds sent to the county. QuickBooks instructions for postage fund management
The billing structure is reflective of the fact that the fees for connectivity are primarily based upon a flat charge and not dependent on the number of staff. Therefore, all counties will be contributing an equal amount to have the service available. The fee per specialist is related to the other costs associated with connectivity and computer services that are specific to the number of computers we have. This would include software licenses, online meeting communications capability, equipment and maintenance costs for the network such as firewall protection. The total county contributions to these costs cover about 10% of the total cost of providing these services.
Mail allotment to counties
Funds for mail expenses are included in each state’s general allocation from USDA. Previously, University of Missouri Extension made a distribution to the counties that could be used for mailing, marketing, and communication purposes. This allotment will be discontinued after January 1, 2017. The allotment will still be provided in the fall of 2016, however. The current allotment to be distributed is $286,109. Regional Directors will have discretion in allocating those funds among the counties. Internet provider support will continue for FY2017. If counties can participate in less expensive internet provider plans, however, MU encourages them to do so. It is anticipated that in a future fiscal year, as all counties are able to secure less expensive local plans, counties will be asked to secure internet service plans locally.
Offices may use the allotment for various mail, marketing or communication charges, such as:
- mailing supplies
- commercial postage meter lease or purchase
- postage stamps
- prepaid postage for a commercial meter
- costs associated with producing the document to be mailed.
- bulk mail postage and permit
- business cards
- mass email charges
- marketing materials, whether tangible or electronic
- purchasing publications and marketing items from MU Extension Publications.
Internal ordering system for publications and marketing items (PawPrint login required)
Offices that wish to send metered mail must use a commercial meter. In addition, offices can obtain a bulk mail permit for large mailings. Information is available from local post offices or from the U.S. Postal Service. Applications for bulk mail permits require proof of non-profit status. A tax-exempt letter is one such proof that may be provided. There is a fee for bulk mail permits, however, so counties will want to compare costs. A bulk mail software, Smartsaver5, is available upon request. If interested in Smartsaver5, please contact Kevin Hansen.
Frequently asked questions
Q. For what purposes may the mail allotment be used?
A. Funds must be used for mailing, marketing & communication purposes relating to specific extension programs and business. They may not be used for extension council business. The mail allotment may be used to promote fee-based programs, although it is recommended that mailing expenses be recovered through fees assessed for these programs.
Q. Are counties responsible for tracking mail expenses and documenting appropriate usage?
A. There is an expectation that counties track the income and expenses associated with the mail funds. This allows counties the ability to determine actual costs and Regional Directors and Administration staff to make informed decisions of the amount of the distribution in total as well as the per county allotment. QuickBooks instructions for postage fund management
Q. Are county offices required to follow the graphic standards for envelopes?
A. Yes. The graphic standards for MU Extension envelopes apply to all extension offices.
See MU Extension Templates and logos
Q. Are the cooperating and non-discrimination statements still required to appear on letterhead and newsletters?
A. Yes. The templates for letterhead and newsletters require the cooperating statement, logo and non-discrimination statement.
Q. May educational assistants use the mail allotment?
A. Educational assistants may send materials under their own name at the supervisor's discretion.
Q. How is the money allocated within MU Extension?
A. MU Extension distributes funds to regions based on number of counties and estimated need. Regional directors will distribute the allotment among counties as equitably as possible, given differences in county population, assigned staff and usage.
Q. Do counties have to use a postage meter, or can they purchase stamps?
A. Counties may choose to use either a postage meter or stamps. Commercial meters require up-front payment of postage. Using a postage meter would eliminate the need to purchase stamps and would provide an accurate cost of mailing.
Q. Can a county office share a mail meter with another entity?
A. To keep costs to a minimum, counties may want to work with other entities in their locales to split commercial meter costs as postage will have to be paid upfront. Many meters can be set up to use codes that allow tracking by user.
Q. If a county creates a marketing brochure with specifics about the county specialists, can the printing and mailing be paid with mail allotment funds?
A. Yes, if listing the specific programming a specialists might provide. The brochure should be created with or approved by Extension Communications.
Q. Are funds provided within the Smith-Lever federal allocation for mail expenses?
A. With the elimination of penalty mail, mail expenses are no longer a separate allocation from the USDA. These funds became part of our general allocation, rather than being specifically designated for mail expenses. To ease the burden on county offices, however, the decision was made to continue to provide funds to the counties for mail purposes as part of Extension’s budget allocations. As federal budgets continued to remain flat and expenses increased, mainly for salary and benefits, the federal funds were no longer sufficient to continue to provide this mail allotment. The funds provided by Extension now come from state-appropriated dollars that we use as match against our federal dollars. With continued reductions from Extension’s budget allocation from MU, tough decisions were necessary to balance the FY 17 budget and therefore the mail allotment was eliminated for calendar year 2017. The mail allotment will be provided, less internet charges, in the fall of 2016.
Q. Why is this change to the mail allotment needed now?
A. Extension has provided an allotment to counties to assist with mail expenses historically and this allotment was protected from other uses within our budget. With the increasing reliance on electronic communications methods such as email, however, we are able to communicate more quickly with constituents and at a much lower cost. Since communications methods have largely shifted, this was an area in the budget that required reallocation in order to balance an increasingly smaller federal and state appropriations budget. Internet provider support will continue for FY2017. If counties can participate in less expensive internet provider plans, however, MU encourages them to do so. It is anticipated that in a future fiscal year, as all counties are able to secure less expensive local plans, counties will be asked to secure internet service plans locally.