By Dedra Cordle
The five-year forecast was presented at the Oct. 12 South-Western City Schools Board of Education meeting. Within the forecast are predictions of flat revenue, a rise in expenditures and positive cash balances throughout the upcoming years.
Treasurer Hugh Garside began the presentation of the forecast, which is required by law to be submitted twice a year, by saying that he prepares the forecast in a very conservative manner. But even prepared conservatively, the numbers often fall in line with the projections.
“We’re consistently on target,” he said, referring to the fact that the actual often falls within a 2 percent difference between the projections.
Garside believes that the district’s revenue will remain flat through fiscal year 2020.
“There will not be a lot of increase,” he said. “Though we are getting more in state funding, it is also being taken away.”
Traditionally, the main revenue sources for the district are property taxes and state funding.
According to the forecast, increases in property tax values are not expected though the district anticipates it will receive an increase of roughly $1 million or $2 million from state funding within the next two fiscal years.
Garside said state projections had the district receiving $2.1 million in fiscal years 2015-2016 and $1.6 million in fiscal years 2016-2017, but upon going over the numbers, he realized there was an error in their estimates.
“I’m comfortable that those amounts are wrong and that what we receive will be lower than (those numbers),” he said.
The district also receives revenue from the Hollywood Casino and they are expected to collect $3 million annually in taxes from the casino.
According to the forecast, the total revenue for the district will be approximately $255 million in fiscal year 2016 and $239 million from 2017-2020.
As for expenditures, they are projected to rise in the upcoming years.
“Though these are conservative figures, we will be spending more than we are taking in by 2018,” Garside said.
He added that the rise is due to an increase in the cost of supplies and materials, personnel salaries and wages and retirement and health insurance benefits.
He said that the cost of insurance has been rising and will likely continue to rise in the future. He mentioned that the district needs to work on cost containment in the health care realm.
Board president Randy Reisling said he is pleased by the forecast and impressed that the district will have a positive cash balance for the next five years.
“It shows that we were able to extend our operating levy promise well beyond our expectations,” he said.
According to Garside, a positive cash balances allows the district to “focus on the important things” such as all-day, every day kindergarten, increasing test scores and educating the students in the district.