Thanks to passage of a new levy last year and a renewal levy in May, the coffers for the Twinsburg City School District are on solid fiscal ground — despite revenues that have flatlined over the past decade.
That was the overall message Treasurer Martin Aho offered during his five-year forecast at the Board of Education’s Wednesday meeting.
The Ohio Department of Education requires Boards to submit a five-year forecast twice a year, once in May and once in October. The treasurer’s office submitted its report to the state May 18.
“It’s good for planning,” Aho said. “The purpose and objective is to engage in planning and discussion, and basically it provides the method for the ODE and the state auditors to identify schools with potential financial problems. If you are looking at some deficits coming up, you know in the next couple years, ODE will step in. They’ll ask you what you are doing about it.”
The five-year forecast shows the district’s total revenue in 2017 at just more than $43.1 million, compared to nearly $42.7 million in 2015. By 2022, revenues are projected to be just above $45 million.
Expenditures, meanwhile, came in at $43.5 million in 2017. Expenditures are projected to be nearly $54 million in 2022. The ending cash balance in 2017 is nearly $31 million. The ending cash balance in 2022 is projected to be about $10.6 million.
About 85 percent of the district’s expenditures are salaries and benefits for teachers and staff, Aho said. The district spends $10,933 per pupil (the state average is $11,603).
“We are a service industry,” Aho said. “We hire teachers and bus drivers and cooks and janitors and lots of people to take care of our students.”
Recent support from the community has helped the district’s bottom line, Aho said. In May 2018, district voters approved passage of a new 6.9-mill continuing property tax levy, which generates $5.65 million for the district. Voters also passed a 6.9-mill renewal levy last month which generates $4.9 million for the district.
However, Ohio’s schools efforts in generating funds are hampered by several state regulations and laws, including HB920, which caps what school districts receive through levies.
“There’s no inflationary increases on property taxes,” Aho said. “So if a house were to double in value, they’re going to pay the same taxes on those levies.”
Another hit the district took financially was the loss of the tangible personal property tax, Aho said.
“In 2004, the tangible personal property tax collected $9.8 million,” he said. “This year, we’ll get about $3.8 million.”
Eventually this tax is expected to be phased out completely, Aho said.
Superintendent Kathryn Powers said the district works to control expenses through contract negotiations. For example, the school board approved 4-0 the insurance rates for the 2018-19 school year through the Ohio Schools Council, for $142,073.
Business manager Chad Welker said this amount was actually a half-percent decrease compared to last year, and 1.75 percent lower compared to fiscal year 2015.
“I’ll tell you, I never want to negotiate against Mr. Welker,” Powers said. “I will lose every time. But he’s once again this year done a great job in taking a look at contracts for next year for vendors.”
Welker said that another contract also approved by the school Board was with Facilities Management eXpress in Columbus, for online facilities management.
“We’ve been able to maintain that cost,” Welker said. “This will be our fourth year at only $3,000. So we definitely are paying attention to even our support software and making sure we’re receiving significant savings on that.”
Powers said the district also has been aggressive at pursing dollars. Recently, the district challenged information from the Summit County Fiscal Office.
“Through the challenge of the legal counsel, we have been able to collect $150,000 — some that we otherwise would not have,” Powers said.
That money has already been earmarked for needed improvements on South Drive at R.B. Chamberlin Middle School, Powers said. The school Board unanimously approved a bid proposal from Carron Asphalt Paving in Solon for $137,000 to repave South Drive. Construction was slated to start Thursday.
“if it wasn’t for our due diligence, we would not have this pot of money to work on the driveway,” Powers said. “This is the driveway that passes the bus parking lot and for any of our families that are RBC parents especially, or this time of year parents who are driving up to the pool, you know the potholes that are on that driveway. It’s long overdue.”
Board President Matt Cellura said he appreciated “the diligence of the administrative team and our legal counsel.”
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, email@example.com, or ??@AprilKHelms_RPC??