The Beckjord Power Station and the Zimmer Power Station have been financial assets to the New Richmond Schools for over 50 years. They have been the largest taxpayers in the district. However, in just the last two years the taxable value of the properties has dropped by close to 50%. This has caused serious concerns about the revenues available to operate our school district.
The Beckjord Power Station was closed in 2014, the Zimmer Power Station was sold in two sales occurring in 2015 and 2017 and has lost almost half the value it once had. Combined with the PUTPP (Public Utility Tangible Personal Property) reductions from the State of Ohio, our district is losing almost $4 million in revenue per year.
In our district, utility company taxes have paid for new buildings, facilities, buses, books, computers and operating costs for the last 50 years while other districts have had to seek additional taxes from residents to afford the same level of services. Now, the biggest taxpayer in the district is paying almost half of what it used to pay.
Careful financial planning in past years has allowed us to accumulate a rainy day fund. The cash balance was built up intentionally in response to reports that Beckjord would close and the PUTPP reimbursement would be going away. This rainy day fund provides the District some time to review our options and monitor our revenue without taking immediate and drastic actions. At the same time,
we are concerned about this revenue shortfall in our financial forecast and must be prepared to addressthe problem with a series of reductions in expenses and exploration of new revenue if the current trend continues.
This spring, the Board of Education and the Administrative Team will be planning for the future. Everything is on the table as we examine the challenge this revenue problem is creating. We will create a Facility Master Plan, study building and grade configurations and consider adjustments in staff levels, class sizes and programs. We may also need to look at a timeline for a tax levy request to address the revenue issue in the long term.
Throughout this process it very important that our financial status and revenue shortfall be communicated openly with the community as we work together to ensure that we continue to provide the best possible education to our students.