Groveport Madison Schools' finances looking grim
Groveport Madison Local Schools' five-year financial forecast is gloomy.
"The picture is bleak," said Treasurer Tony Swartz at the Groveport Madison Board of Education's Oct. 11 meeting.
The Ohio Department of Education requires all school districts to submit a financial forecast, which is an estimate of the district's financial future, two times a year.
According to the forecast, Groveport Madison finances are projected to be in the negative in each of the next five years by: $438,397 in 2013; $4.7 million in 2014; $9.6 million in 2015; $15 million in 2016; and $20.5 million in 2017.
The forecast does not include any new potential levy money, but, in light of the figures, Swartz said the district must consider a new levy in 2013 as well as potential cuts.
Swartz said the district is facing declining property tax revenues. He said a 2011 reappraisal of property tax values in the district resulted in an 8 percent decrease in value. Another problem Swartz cited is the amount of delinquent property tax collections in the district.
"We're short $2.5 million in property tax collections in 2012, which is a delinquency rate of 10 percent," said Swartz. "There's no sign that delinquent property taxes are turning around. In 2011, they were $1.9 million. If people can't pay, they can't pay."
Swartz said the delinquent property taxes involve both residential and commercial property owners.
"We cannot overcome this amount of delinquent property taxes," said Swartz.
Additionally, other revenue streams are drying up. Swartz said there is no more federal stimulus money for the district. Superintendent Bruce Hoover said the state of Ohio is indicating it wants local school districts to absorb more of the share of school funding.
"The state is no closer to solving the school funding issue," said Hoover.
Swartz said the state's latest budget bill will result in Groveport Madison losing state monies of $1.7 million in 2012 and $362,000 in 2013.
The levy that district voters passed last August was a "no new taxes" levy, so it did not generate additional money for the district.
Swartz said the school board must act by February in order to place a levy on the May 2013 ballot.
"A decision must be made to decide what level of schools the community wants," said Swartz.
According to Swartz, Groveport Madison has the second lowest tax rate in Franklin County, just above Hamilton Township. He added that 75 percent of school districts are facing financial deficits.
The board will consider the issue of a potential levy further at future meetings.