Marysville News

Five-year forecast shows need to renew levy

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A new five-year financial forecast approved by the Marysville Board of Education May 16 shows what a difference one levy can have on a district budget.

In Marysville's case, that is a 6.56-mill levy that Treasurer Cindy Ritter said will need to be renewed in 2014 for collection starting in 2015. It is the only remaining five-year levy that is not continuous for the district, she said.

Without the levy, the forecast reflects an ending cash balance in fiscal year 2013 of $2.8 million; $4.3 million in FY 2014 and $5 million in FY 2015. Fiscal year 2016 would end with a projected deficit of $501,284; that would balloon to a deficit of $5.4 million at the end of fiscal year 2017.

With the 6.56-mill levy, the forecast reflects cash balances of $2.8 million in fiscal year 2013, $4.3 million in FY 2014 and $3.3 million in FY 2015, with deficits of $4.5 million and $2.9 million in fiscal years 2016 and 2017, respectively.

The 6.56-mill levy was first approved in 1989 and is currently being collected at 3 mills, Ritter said.

She said it will need to be renewed in order for the district to keep receiving "hold harmless" payments from the loss of the state's tangible personal property tax.

In order to maintain financial effectiveness, Ritter said the district needs to pursue tax levies and otherwise manage its finances to ensure that the general fund cash balance is at least 5 percent to 15 percent of the previous year's actual revenue received, or enough to cover one to two months of expected expenditures.

Five percent of the district's previous year's revenue would be $2.3 million, she said. One month of expenditures for the district is $3.5 million.

"We've put a lot of time into that cash balance policy," Ritter said.

The Marysville Education Association, the union representing teachers, took a pay freeze in July 2011. Negotiations with the union will begin in early June, according to board President Jeff Mabee.

Juliet Litzel, MEA president, spoke to the board and to more than 80 teachers who attended the May 16 meeting, saying while morale is still low, she is proud to work with the administration for the future of the district.

"I hope we continue to stay focused on our kids, but we're going to do what we can to keep the district moving ahead," Litzel said.

Ritter said the forecast for fiscal year 2014 contains no money specifically for any staff pay increases. However, for budgeting purposes, the district has included an annual percentage increase of up to 2 percent in the "other" category that could be used for bonuses, lump sum payments, step increases, pay raises or any combination of these.

Ritter said Marysville's five-year forecast is similar to those for many districts in Ohio in that the amount of funding is leveling off and they are waiting on the state budget to determine the final outcome for funding in FY 2014 and FY 2015.

Gov. John Kasich's budget has been making its way through the Ohio Statehouse and should be finalized in June. This will determine how much money the district will receive from the state, she said.

Cuts in funding from the state in the previous budget led the school board to ask voters for a new levy last November. Voters denied the request and the district implemented a reduction in force that is expected to save $2,018,946 from staffing reductions for fiscal year 2014, along with $14,373 from furlough days for the administration.

"With the decrease in staff in FY13 and FY14, the amount of personal services has decreased by 13.57 percent since FY12," Ritter said.

Ritter's forecast included some assumptions, as all budgets do. It keeps the tangible personal property tax "hold harmless" payment unchanged for 2014 and 2015 and reflects a 1-percent decrease in 2016 and 2017. State foundation money is decreased for 2014 and flat-lined for 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The five-year forecast also includes a 2-percent increase for salaries in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

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