Westerville News & Public Opinion

Five-year forecast

Gains in revenue good news for district

Tax collections are up from last October's filing, with spending slightly below

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An updated projection of the Westerville City School District's finances shows the district will end fiscal year 2017 with $2.5 million more on hand than originally was projected.

The school board unanimously approved an updated five-year financial forecast at a special meeting Wednesday, May 29.

School districts are required to submit five-year financial forecasts to the state in October and May of each fiscal year, which runs from July 1 through June 31.

The district collected $1.2 million more in taxes than was projected in October, said district Treasurer Bart Griffith, and it also received $927,000 more in state funding, which included money brought in through the state's casino taxes.

The district also spent nearly $3.4 million less than was projected in October.

A large chunk of that reduction was $1.6 million less spent on personal services, or salaries, which largely was due to the district hiring most of its new employees at the lowest salary levels, Griffith said.

The district also spent $1.3 million less in benefits, primarily because of lower insurance premium rates and reductions to employees' benefits packages.

In all, the district will have collected $149.5 million in revenue and spent $144.5 million. It will end the fiscal year with $15 million in cash reserves.

Beginning in fiscal year 2014, the district will bring in more revenue because it will be the first full fiscal year of collections for the 6.71-mill operating levy approved in March 2012.

That year, the district is expected to collect $156.6 million, spend $141.9 million and end the year with $29.7 million on hand. In 2015, the district expects to collect $156.6 million, spend $151.7 million and end the year with $34.6 million on hand; in 2016, collect $156.2 million, spend $158.7 million and end the year with $32.1 million on hand; and in 2017, collect $156.6 million, spend $166 million and end the year with $22.7 million on hand.

With the positive financial news, Griffith suggested to the board that the district begin the practice of setting aside funds for 30 days' worth of expenditures, which he said is a standard business practice.

"You have the means to set that aside and make that happen now," Griffith told the board. "For a business this size, you should have 30-day cash balance. That's a minimum."

Board members agreed the district should begin that practice and should look toward a policy to make that standard district procedure.

"I'm absolutely thrilled that we're in a position where we're able to move forward with a cash-balance practice and work toward a policy," said board member Kristi Robbins.

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