FIVE YEARS OUT: Healthy school forecast depends on tax renewals


Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

Oberlin Schools treasurer Angela Dotson says the district needs to pass its next three renewal levies to have a positive forecast in 2020.


Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

Oberlin Schools treasurer Angela Dotson says the district needs to pass its next three renewal levies to have a positive forecast in 2020.

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Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

Oberlin Schools treasurer Angela Dotson says the district needs to pass its next three renewal levies to have a positive forecast in 2020.

The next five years look very promising for the Oberlin Schools financially, if the district’s existing levies are renewed by voters.

It’s not without its challenges, though — the district is expected to see a decline in property tax collections through 2018 and treasurer Angela Dotson expects to see a two percent increase in income tax collections.

The school system’s revenue for 2015 is $13.5 million with $4.1 million coming from property taxes and $4.2 million from income taxes.

A 2.3 percent increase in salary costs is expected in 2017, which will include the hiring of a full-time curriculum director, increase for elementary Spanish, and an increase for non-union employees.

The expense to jump the highest over the next five years will likely be employee benefits, which Dotson anticipates will rise by 6.1 percent in 2016 and by more than five percent a year through 2020.

A hefty bump will come next year due to a one-time $638,000 influx from a single taxpayer. Dotson did not know the circumstances of that payment but said the taxpayer in question could file an amended return anytime in the next four years to request a refund.

The Oberlin Schools could see a $1 million budget decrease by 2017 if voters do not approve a $940,000 emergency levy and a two-mill permanent improvement levy in March 2016. Both are renewals, not tax increases, and if passed will only keep funding where it is.

Dotson predicts the schools’ revenue stream will drop to $12.7 million by 2018 if those levies are not passed.

Superintendent David Hall said the emergency levy covers staff members, students, and programs within the district.

If the permanent improvement levy passes it would fund any physical item that will last more than five years.

“In 2020, it’s a positive forecast of almost $1 million if we pass all of our levies,” Dotson said. “We have to continue our two-mill PI, our emergency levy, and our technology levy in order to maintain a positive fund balance.”

The education technology levy could come before voters in 2017 if the board wants to renew, replace, or renew and increase it.

The projected positive balance in 2020 does not include $1.4 million Dotson has put aside in a reserve account.

“We’re in much better shape than we were five years ago,” said board member Barry Richard.

He said the management of the money and the work district employees have done has helped stabilize the Oberlin Schools.

Enrollment is another factor in the district’s finances because normally the more students you have in the classroom the more money you get from the state.

The district has 12 fewer students this year compared to 2014 and Dotson expects the number to drop to 963 students by 2020.

Dotson said Oberlin had 100 students move out of the district and a large number of those students moved out of state.

Oberlin also has nearly 10 fewer kindergartners this year. Of those attending, seven open-enrolled into the district.

Only five kindergartners open-enrolled out and three have siblings already attending the Firelands Schools, Dotson said.

“Last year we didn’t have any kindergartners open-enroll out,” she said.

Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.

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