Without voter support next week, the Oberlin school district’s five-year forecast shows deficit spending and tough financial challenges ahead.
Seventy-nine percent of the district’s revenue is already tied up in staff salaries and benefits, treasurer Angela Dotson said. Teachers are unlikely to stick out employment if they aren’t getting raises, she said.
That means the 0.75 percent income tax renewal that will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot is crucial.
The five-year tax renewal would keep taxes at present levels through 2023. It would generate $1.4 million per year that could be used solely for the operations of the district, such as district-wide busing, school supplies, extracurricular programs, and staff.
Unreserved cash doesn’t cover technology, the district’s permanent improvement fund, federal grants, or student accounts, Dotson said.
Fiscal year 2018 will be the first in a while that Oberlin expects to have more money coming in than going out, with a projected excess of revenue over expenditures of $356,203.
Yet the district needs to pass a levy or delve back into deficit spending again starting in fiscal year 2018, which will lead to a $3,614,516 deficit by the end of five years, according to Dotson.
Available operating cash is slowly dwindling. By 2022, the fund balance should still be positive, but down to $2 million. That amount would cover slightly less than a month and a half worth of expenses.
“If the income tax levy doesn’t pass, then we’re missing $7 million,” she said. “Take that seven from the $2 million and we’re at a negative five. Then what? That’s huge.”
If spending isn’t cut by 2023, Dotson said the district will have to ask taxpayers for new money. Her goal is to get expenses in line and stop a decline before it happens.
“If the levy doesn’t pass, district education will look very different,” she said. “If 79 percent of our expenses are salaries, then that’s where the largest impact is going to be.”
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.