After having time to review Gov. John Kasich's two-year state budget proposal, Reynoldsburg schools Superintendent Steve Dackin said the plan could mean $2.4 million in cuts to district finances.

After having time to review Gov. John Kasich's two-year state budget proposal, Reynoldsburg schools Superintendent Steve Dackin said the plan could mean $2.4 million in cuts to district finances.

If that figure holds true, Dackin said making the reductions will be a challenge. It also means the district must remain creative in figuring out how to reduce expenditures.

"That $2.4 million is a simulation based on the governor's proposal, and obviously, it has to go through the House and Senate yet, but we don't believe that includes, for example, any possible phase-out of the tangible personal property tax (TPP)," Dackin said. "What the TPP would mean is $1.1 million for us, but the total cut we're anticipating right now is $2.4 million.

"We knew a cut was coming, and we still don't know absolutely how much, but this does kind of set a base line for us," he said.

Dackin praised voters for passing a 6.9-mill operating levy last May but said the potential $2.4 million worth of adjustments prompted by the state budget plan would essentially cut in half the $4.7 million generated by the levy.

"The bottom line is, we're not going to have much choice. We're going to have to reconcile our revenues with our expenditures and we'll be moving forward with anticipated $2.4 million worth of possible reductions," he said.

Because the state budget proposal still needs to go through the Ohio House and Senate, Dackin said additional changes could have an impact on that $2.4 million.

"For example, Gov. Kasich's proposal on pension pickups: If it possibly went to a 12-percent contribution by employees and a 12-percent contribution by the employer, that would net out about a $1-million reduction in our current expenditures, which would help us," Dackin said. "But we don't know for sure if that will happen yet. The other factor is Senate Bill 5, with health insurance. If it was mandated and every employee had to pick up 15 percent of their cost of health insurance, that would mean a significant amount of money for us also, about $1 million."

Dackin said as a result of the anticipated $2.4 million in cuts, district treasurer Tammy Miller will be amending the district's five-year forecast.

He said employee layoffs cannot be ruled out.

"We're certainly going to try to get our reductions through attrition, but $2.4 million is a lot of money to get through attrition," Dackin said. "But we're going to continue to look at ways that we can be creative."

That includes reaching out to other school districts or municipalities to see what to what extent they can share services that might result in some reductions on the spending side for the Reynoldsburg district, Dackin said.

"For example, we're looking at reaching out to other communities and schools, at maybe picking up some of their back office responsibilities and in turn, they would pay us for that," he said. "If there's a way we can provide that service to other entities at a cost that would ultimately save both entities money, that's something we'll be interested in doing."

Dackin said the district is involved in a transportation initiative through the Educational Service Center to look at ways to potentially share transportation costs with neighboring school districts or municipalities.

"We're exploring ideas about how we could reach out to municipalities and other entities to see to what extent people are interested in trying to combine and or share services," he said.

"We're always going to be in that search now. We have a commitment to maximize the taxpayers' dollar and I think they expect that. I think they deserve that," he said.

Dackin emphasized district officials will not know for sure what kind of reductions they will face until they see exactly what kind of final budget the state legislature passes, which is expected to happen in June.

"Whenever the vote is conducted and it passes, then we'll know for sure what the potential is for reductions in current expenditures," he said. "We're still going to keep trying to find creative ways that we can reduce our expenditures without reducing services. That is the point I really want to emphasize and it's going to be a challenge if it's $2.4 million. That is a lot of money in Reynoldsburg," Dackin said.

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