By Dedra Cordle
When Treasurer Hugh Garside prepares the five-year forecast for the South-Western City Schools District, he says he likes to err on the side of conservatism when making projections.
Garside maintains that by doing so, the district is consistently on target with their extended financial outlook so there are no big surprises when the forecast is unveiled twice per year as required by state law.
When presenting the forecast last October, Garside projected that the district’s revenue would be flat, there would be a rise in expenditures, and there would be a positive cash balance throughout fiscal year 2020. When presenting the forecast at the May 9 board of education meeting, he said that while those projections are still “on target,” there was a slight surprise in the forecast.
“The forecast was a little better than anticipated due to the conservative nature of budgeting the forecast,” he said.
According to Garside, there will be a slight increase in revenue due to unrestricted grants-in-aid, which are calculated by the state on a per pupil basis.
“Overall, we are projected to see an increase of roughly $6.6 million,” he said, referring to the increase from last October’s financial projections.
As per the May forecast, the district’s revenue is projected to be $260 million in fiscal year 2016, $250 million in fiscal year 2017 and $245 million in fiscal year 2018.
Also of note in the revenue aspect, the forecast projects little to no growth on existing real estate values. The district will also continue to receive approximately $3 million annually in taxes from the Hollywood Casino, which opened four years ago.
As for the district’s expenditures, projections in the forecast indicate a slight rise due to the hiring of additional staff to meet the demands of a growing student body as well as a spike in the price of bus fuel, which is expected to grow roughly 4.5 percent over the next five years.
According to the forecast, every $0.30 increase in the price per gallon of fuel represents roughly $100,000 in increased cost annually.
In the May forecast, the district’s projected expenditures are $224 million in fiscal year 2016, $235 million in fiscal year 2017 and $247 million in fiscal year 2018.
As for the cash balance, Garside said that the district will continue to keep their promise to the voters by not asking for more money due to the projected positive cash balances throughout the next five years.
According to the figures in the forecast, the district will have a positive cash balance through fiscal year 2018.