Hilliard school board members unanimously approved the district's five-year forecast Oct. 14.

Hilliard school board members unanimously approved the district's five-year forecast Oct. 14.

For the past two years, board member Paul Lambert was the lone dissenter in adopting the district's financial forecast of revenue and spending, but Lambert supported the plan Treasurer Brian Wilson presented to board members Oct. 14.

Lambert said unanticipated additional state funding was the impetus for his approval.

"I've voted against the forecast for the past two years. ... I'm happy the state legislature has stopped squeezing the local districts," he said.

"I think we have a five-year plan we can work with," Lambert said immediately prior to casting his vote to approve the forecast estimating revenue and expenditures through fiscal year 2018.

Wilson told board members the plan "was not written in stone," but is rather "a prediction of future events based on assumptions being made today" and is subject to probable change.

Ohio law requires school boards to approve a five-year forecast prior to Oct. 31 and update it between April 1 and May 31 each year.

Wilson said Hilliard's forecast, based on controlled spending and even small increases in state funding, is as good as it has been since years before the economic recession, dating back to 2006.

For fiscal year 2014, revenue is expected to exceed expenditures by almost $3 million.

Estimated revenue is $168.18 million and estimated expenses are $165.2 million, Wilson said.

If met, the district would add $2.97 million to its cash balance, boosting it to $24.15 million.

"It's the best financial position we've been in for the past few years and a nice position to be in," Wilson said.

State funding for fiscal year 2014 is estimated at $37.4 million.

"It's more than last year, but not quite the amount we were getting in 2006," Wilson said.

In 2006, the district received in excess of $38 million. Last year, the district received about $35.3 million, Wilson said.

Revenue from Ohio's casinos also is helping the district's bottom line.

Hilliard schools will receive about $800,000 this fiscal year from the casinos, Wilson said.

While revenue is better than expected, the district is projected to begin deficit spending by the end of fiscal year 2016, according to the five-year forecast.

Personnel expenses represent slightly less of the overall budget in fiscal year 2014 compared to 2006.

In 2006, the district's expenses were $132 million and personnel, including staff salaries and benefits, represented 86 percent of the overall budget. For fiscal year 2014, expenses are projected at $165.2 million, or 85 percent of the overall budget.

Wilson projects a 3-percent increase in health-care costs for fiscal year 2014, but estimates a 10-percent increase in fiscal year 2015.

"We have a wellness plan and hope to moderate our projected increases, but it is too early to determine (if costs will be less than projected)," Wilson said.