WL-S facing deficits, covered by cash


By Casey S. Elliott - celliott@civitasmedia.com



West Liberty-Salem Local Schools officials predict deficits in the coming years, though they should be covered by cash reserves and levy renewals.

The school board approved the district’s five-year forecast at its Oct. 18 meeting. The forecast is required to be developed twice a year by Ohio law.

Revenue is estimated to end the current school year at $14,122,035 and next school year at $14,279,314, according to the five-year forecast prepared by Treasurer Steve Godwin. Revenue is estimated to decline to $13,751,476 in the 2020-21 school year.

Revenue is estimated to remain mostly flat and then decline, despite small increases in property tax revenue, Godwin wrote in his five-year forecast assumptions document. State funding is estimated to stay the same. The district’s income tax revenue is predicted to increase for some years, but decline in the 2020-21 school year, the forecast states.

Expenditures are estimated to end the current school year at $13,948,450 and next school year at $14,052,783. Expenses are estimated to grow to $16,358,116 in the 2020-21 school year.

Expenses are estimated to increase due to salaries, benefits, utilities and supplies. Salaries are estimated to increase in 2016-17 by 1.5 percent on the base salary and steps; percentages for base salary increases for 2017-18 and 2018-19 are estimated at 3 percent with steps at 1.5 percent. Salaries for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 years are estimated at 2 percent base increases with 1.5 percent steps.

Health insurance is estimated to increase by 5 percent in the 2016-17 school year; then by 7 percent the rest of the years of the forecast.

The district is estimated to end the current school year with a $173,585 surplus and next school year with a $226,531 surplus. Deficit spending begins in the 2018-19 school year, growing to an estimated $2,606,640 shortfall in the 2020-21 school year. If levies are renewed, the district anticipates ending the 2020-21 school year in the black with $2,235,542 in the bank.

By Casey S. Elliott

celliott@civitasmedia.com

Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.

Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.