The latest five-year financial forecast for the Canal Winchester school district places it on firm footing -- as long as its substitute levy is renewed in 2019.

Treasurer Nicholas Roberts said he believes state funding for the district will "remain strong" this school year and in fiscal year 2019.

However, if the levy is not renewed, the five-year report says an operating deficit will exceed $5.9 million by the end of fiscal year 2021.

That deficit, without renewing the levy, increases to nearly $7.6 million in 2022.

"As you can see, without the levy, we start going down very quickly in our cash," Roberts said. "The levy is worth over $6 million."

He said he and Superintendent Jim Sotlar have discussed the need for a permanent improvement fund to help plan for the future needs of aging buildings.

"We would like to move an equivalent to 1 mill, which is essentially $425,000 per year, to build up a permanent improvement fund for big-time building expenses that will come later," Roberts said.

By establishing this fund now, he said, the district will not need to ask taxpayers for money to cover these building expenses.

Roberts told the Canal Winchester Board of Education in October that the amount of state funding funneled to the district is expected to continue to grow through the end of the projection period, "assuming a continuation of the current formula is expected to produce more calculated funding" for the district than cap limits allow.

State money provided Canal Winchester schools with about 42.7 percent of its revenue in fiscal year 2017 and will account for 51.3 percent of its funding in fiscal year 2022, according to Roberts.

The next-highest source of revenue is real estate taxes, which made up about 32.4 percent of the revenue budget in fiscal year 2017 but is expected to decrease to 22.9 percent by fiscal year 2022.

Roberts attributes the shift to other areas of revenue growth "outpacing real estate taxes, thus lowering the overall percentage of real estate taxes."

Roberts' forecast indicates revenue for Canal Winchester schools will be nearly $44.6 million in fiscal year 2018, $45.5 million in 2019, $43.5 million in 2020, $41.4 million in 2021 and $42.4 million in 2022.

Anticipated expenditures stand at $40.3 million in fiscal year 2018, $42.6 million in 2019, $45 million in 2020, $47.4 million in 2021 and $50 million in 2022.

"Overall expenditures are projected to increase, on average, at a rate of 1.67 percent per year," Roberts said.

Salaries and benefits made up 62.2 percent of the district's expenditures in fiscal year 2017.

That's expected to increase to 77.3 percent by 2022.

The five-year forecast anticipates the district will hire five additional teachers per year through 2022 due to enrollment growth.

The forecast also includes anticipated increases in base wages of 2 percent in each of the next five years, although negotiations for pay raises have not been held.

Health insurance premiums are also expected to cost more over the life of the forecast.

"The forecast assumes premiums to increase at industrywide trend levels for FY18 and after, which are currently running about 10 percent per year," the report states.

Purchased services, which include transportation charges, utilities, special education tuition and rentals, are expected to account for around 14 percent of the district's budget for the next five years.

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