Although expenditures are expected to begin to exceed revenue for Worthington City Schools by the end of fiscal year 2018, a healthy carryover cash balance keeps district finances relatively stable for the next five years, according to Treasurer Jeff McCuen.

Although expenditures are expected to begin to exceed revenue for Worthington City Schools by the end of fiscal year 2018, a healthy carryover cash balance keeps district finances relatively stable for the next five years, according to Treasurer Jeff McCuen.

He also said revenue from a 2012 levy should last until at least November of 2019.

McCuen recently updated the October 2015 five-year financial forecast to reflect the most accurate ending balances and future financial projections.

The May update shows a slight increase in revenue and a decrease in expenditures for the district.

"Total revenues for the current year are now projected at $135 million, 1 percent above October estimates," McCuen said.

Total expenditures for this fiscal year are projected at $121.1 million, which is 0.5 million under October estimates.

"That is mainly the result of lower than expected utility costs from both the very mild winter as well as significant decrease in commodity prices," McCuen said.

The ending fund balance is projected at $60,438,786 for fiscal year 2016, which ends June 30.

That number is expected to dwindle by the end of fiscal year 2018, however, but the updated forecast still projects a fund balance of $29,623,803 in 2020, despite a predicted $11.7 million in deficit spending that year.

The increase in revenue for 2016 is related to several Board of Revision settlement payments related to commercial property valuation challenges, as well as a larger than expected increase in utility property valuations, according to McCuen.

"In addition, the district had fewer and lower Peterson (Special Needs) and Autism (Scholarship Program) scholarship deductions than originally expected," he said.

Despite the good financial outlook, the forecast is "laden with risks and uncertainty" not only due to economic factors, but also because of the "volatility" of possible legislative changes, McCuen said.

He said Franklin County would go through a complete reappraisal of property value in the 2017 tax year. The 2014 reappraisal increased average residential assessed values 3.6 percent but lowered average commercial assessed values by 1.3 percent.

"We expect values in our district to remain stable, but there is some risk that the district could sustain another reduction in values, but we do not anticipate that at this time," McCuen said.

Another uncertainty is the state's stance on the cost of Peterson Special Needs vouchers and the Autism Scholarship Program, which increased from $20,000 each to $27,000.

"These two programs now reduce our state revenue $1.3 million annually," McCuen said.

The biggest uncertainty might be overall state foundation funding.

The current biennial state budget for fiscal year 2016-17 "did not appropriate enough resources to fully fund all districts according to its latest school funding formula," McCuen said.

He said the district received a capped increase of 7.5 percent of prior year's state revenue under that budget. Without that cap, the district would have received $4.8 million in additional revenue this year.

McCuen called the current model of educational funding "a political method of distribution of limited resources, rather than a true calculation of funding needs."

Because there are two future state biennium budgets covering the forecast, districts would continue to be challenged by that "unpredictability of resources," he said.

He said district enrollment increases also point to the need to hire more staff members and the need for reasonable labor contracts.

School board member Sam Shim said the forecast looked more stable than he expected.

"It's actually a pretty good budget," he said. "I thought we'd be running a levy by now."

Board President Marc Schare said the uncertainties of state funding would require diligence by school board members.

"A large part of our income might depend on successful lobbying with legislators," he said.