Financial outlook is stable in South-Western City Schools

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By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

The South-Western City School District’s annual financial review was presented at the December board of education meeting.

Although the district saw a decline in its general fund revenues and an increase in its general fund expenditures, officials say the financial outlook of the district continues to be strong.

According to Treasurer Hugh Garside, fiscal year 2021-22 saw the overall revenue decrease by almost 2 percent. He said the panic button need not be hit by that news.

“Now, before you get shocked by our revenues decreasing, overall in the state of Ohio there was a pretty significant change that happened in the state’s biennial budget,” he said.

Garside explained that the state will no longer provide funds for districts to account for students who are categorized as community school students or scholarship students. Instead, he said the state will cover the cost rather than provide funds for the districts as they have done in previous fiscal years.

He added that the district received roughly $15 million through the state for its community school and scholarship students.

Garside said that while the state’s decision to fund the programs could have been a big financial hit, the move will ultimately be considered a wash as the district will no longer have to include those programs in their expenditures.

Some of the positive items of note in the district’s overall revenues, said Garside, is that they have received a number of Medicaid reconciliation payments to the tune of $1 million each, they have received a number of payment in lieu of taxes from settlements with commercial properties, and they have a healthy residential and commercial tax base.

“Fifty-five percent of our property tax revenues come from our residential and agricultural tax base, but this district also has a pretty strong commercial industrial tax base as well,” he said, noting that 45 percent of the district’s revenue funds is attributed to commercial and industrial properties.

According to Garside, the district’s total general fund revenue for fiscal year 2021-22 was $288 million, down $5 million from the previous fiscal year.

On the expenditure side, the district saw a slight increase of roughly 1.5 percent; the total general fund expenditures for the 2021-22 fiscal year was $277.37 million.

Garside said some of the rise in expenditures can be attributed to an increase of salaries and benefits for the district’s certificated and classified employees, the “final push” of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission middle school build project, and an overall rise in the cost of materials and supplies.

He said he anticipates that the Capital Projects Fund will go down in the next fiscal year as the district has completed the middle school build project. The 2021-22 fiscal year saw the district spend $86.54 million to cover the cost of its permanent improvement projects.

Despite the slight decrease in the revenue and the slight increase in expenditures, Garside said the district’s finances are stable and he sees no need for the board to request an operating levy at this time. He added that the district has maintained, and will continue to maintain, a positive cash balance of roughly 5 to 10 months throughout the next five-years, if not beyond that duration of time.

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