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Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Treasurer predicts future budget cuts

Celina Schools

By Amy Kronenberger
CELINA - Halfway through the fiscal year, expenses continue to exceed revenue at Celina City Schools.
For the month of December, the school's general fund had a revenue of $816,824 with expenses at $1.1 million, according to treasurer Mike Marbaugh's report to school board members Monday. Since July 1, the general fund has had $13.3 million in revenue and $14.6 million in expenses.
Marbaugh said expenses aren't higher than normal. Revenue is lower because the school only receives tax collection money in January, March/April, July and October.
The school budgeted $29.5 million in expenditures to be covered by $27.3 million in revenue and the cash balance. Marbaugh said as of Nov. 30, the school's cash balance is $10.1 million.
Marbaugh's five-year financial forecast shows continued deficit spending in the coming years if cuts are not made and no new levies are passed. His forecast shows a possible $7.2 million deficit by 2016.
The board last year approved a $1 million reduction plan for this school year to help bridge the gap in deficit spending. Superintendent Matt Miller said administrators plan to work on another reduction plan for next year.
Also at Monday's meeting, the school board discussed the possibility of building a new elementary building to replace East and West elementaries.
In November, Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) representatives inspected all district buildings. School officials on Friday met with the representatives and architects from Fanning-Howey Associates, Celina, to discuss the findings but learned more information was needed.
"We still needed to send enrollment numbers, so we submitted those on Friday," assistant superintendent Kevin Mast said.
A complete package will be sent to the school, with officials then presenting the options to the board and public. Mast expects the state to present four options. If the board and public building committees approve an option, school officials plan to place an operating levy on the November general election ballot.
Costs of the recommended projects are expected to range from about $59 million to about $71 million, with the local share ranging from about $34.7 million to $44.7 million.
Voters likely would be asked to approve a 28-year, 6.8-mill bond issue to pay for the project. Residents with property valued at $100,000 would pay a little less than $100 additional tax, treasurer Mike Marbaugh said.
Celina has deferred state funding for the construction each year since 2008, citing a poor economy and bad timing. To receive OSFC funding, the district must move forward in 2012 or 2013. Celina is one of only 16 school districts in northwest Ohio that has not accepted offered money.
Fanning-Howey executive director Stephen Wilczynski said during a previous meeting the state determines the percentage of local share by dividing the total school property values by the number of students in the district, and then averages it over three years. Celina's local share will likely come to about 57 percent.
In other action, the board accepted a donation of $13,969 from the Mercer County Civic Foundation to help fund the eighth-grade Washington, D.C., trip.
Marbaugh said an anonymous donor, a former graduate of Celina High School, approached the foundation to begin a yearly donation to the school.
The donor said students could write letters every year and tell him what they wanted him to fund. This year, he chose to fund the annual D.C. trip.
Board member Cindy Piper requested sending the donor a thank you letter on behalf of the board and school. The board agreed.
The next board meeting will be 6 p.m. Feb. 13 at the high school lecture hall.
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