New Albany News

Treasurer finds error in five-year forecast

Deficit projection for 2016 increases to more than $4M, district officials say

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The New Albany-Plain Local School District's updated five-year forecast now projects a more than $4 million deficit in fiscal year 2016 after Treasurer Rebecca Jenkins found an accounting error in the previous forecast.

The school board was expected to approve the forecast Monday, May 20.

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Jenkins said the forecast approved last October estimated a deficit of $528,474 in fiscal year 2016.

After the error was corrected, the deficit now is estimated at $4,116,423.

Jenkins told the financial review and reporting committee May 13 a refund of $1.4 million from Columbus City Schools was counted twice over the term of the forecast. The refund is related to an overpayment the district made as part of the Win-Win agreement, which requires the suburban districts to share revenue with Columbus schools.

"I'm troubled by the timing, not that (an error) occurred," said FRRC member David Demers.

Demers encouraged district officials to publicize the error, which was made before the district's Issue 50 was approved by voters in November.

Issue 50 included a 2.59-mill bond issue that will generate $45.1 million to fund a new building for 1,200 students and a 4.24-mill continuous operating levy that will generate $3.51 million.

District officials had said that operating levy would prevent a deficit in fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

Jenkins said the district would be able to keep its promise not to return to voters for more money until 2014, as promised when Issue 50 was approved.

Jenkins said she spoke with interim treasurer Peg Betts, who prepared the October forecast, and confirmed the error.

In recent years, the district overpaid Columbus City Schools $1.4 million more than required by the Win-Win agreement, which was signed in 1986 and allows land in the city of Columbus to be included in suburban school district boundaries.

Jenkins said the district will receive $948,000 in fiscal year 2013 and $473,000 in fiscal year 2014 from Columbus schools for the refund.

Once the duplicate Win-Win refunds were removed from the budget for fiscal years 2014, 2015 and 2016, the forecast estimated a $4,116,423 deficit in fiscal year 2016.

The difference from the $528,474 deficit estimated last October also reflects a 7.1-percent increase in health-insurance costs for fiscal year 2013, Jenkins said.

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.

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