Delaware News

District treasurer optimistic about financial future

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Sunny skies are in the financial forecast for the Delaware City School District.

Treasurer Melissa Lee said the district will not have a need for new money until fiscal year 2018.

"We're looking at a more-optimistic picture than we were looking at in May," she said. "Based on this current five-year forecast, it looks like we will not need to ask for additional money until at least 2018."

The district will see an increase of 6.25 percent from state funding for the 2013-14 year, and a 10.5-percent increase in 2014-15, Lee said.

The state budget runs on a two-year cycle, which means the district is relying heavily on assumptions of what the state will provide after 2015.

Although the district will see an increase in state funding, with the new state school budget formula, it's still subject to caps on the amount of money it will bring in, Lee said.

"We are continuing to work with our state legislators to help them understand how these caps affect our district," she said.

"Because of these caps on how much money we can receive, we are not getting the full amount of money that the formula says we should be getting."

Other assumptions on which the financial forecast relies heavily are real estate growth and personnel and insurance increases, Lee said.

Next year, the county will conduct its triannual update to home sales and home values, and the district anticipates at least a 1-percent increase in property values. There will not be a full reappraisal of homes until 2017.

Due to increased enrollment, the district is looking at personnel and how many new staffers it expects to hire over the course of five years.

The district hired six new teachers this year and plans call for an additional five teachers in the 2014-15 school year, four in the 2015-16 school year and four more in 2016-17.

The district also anticipates an increase of about 14 percent in its insurance costs due to the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

"Insurance companies are going to be seeing a lot of increases, so they will be rolling back those increases into our costs," Lee said.

The emergency levy approved by voters in November 2011 will expire in 2016 and will need to be renewed the following year if the district wants to be eligible to receive the $6 million in funds.

Depending on state funding, the district may have to ask for not just a renewal, but additional funds, Lee said. Due to the rollback of the Homestead Act, any additional funds will require seniors to pay out of their own pocket and not receive a refund from the state, Lee said.

She added the district is in a good place financially based on the available data.

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