OCTOBER 2018 FINANCIAL UPDATE
New Richmond Exempted Village School District previously sent out information regarding the loss of significant tax revenues as a result of the closing of the Beckjord Electric Plant and the sale of the Zimmer Electric Plant. Our fiscal year ended June 30, 2018, and with that we can now report the actual decrease in tax revenue. In the 2014/15 fiscal year we received $6.5 million of tax revenue from the Beckjord and Zimmer plants. For 2017/18, the revenue had gone down to $3.6 million, or a decrease of about $3 million of annual revenue. This, above all else, is the biggest financial concern for the district. Further, the decrease in revenue from the plants is expected to be $4 million this year as we continue to experience the effects of the closing of Beckjord and the lower values attributed to the sale of the Zimmer plant.
As a result of these revenue reductions, we have been taking action to reduce spending in many areas but not enough to keep up with a $4 million loss of revenue.
In most districts, the loss of $4 million in annual revenue would create an immediate emergency which would result in drastic cuts to educational programming. We are fortunate in that over the course of many years the District accumulated a cash balance that reached $24 million at the end of 2015/16. Over the course of the past two years we’ve seen the balance decreasing and we ended up at June 30, 2018 with a cash balance of $21 million.
The Board has been reviewing data related to all aspects of our operations, from staffing levels, programs that have been developed to improve student learning, spending on building improvements and maintenance, utilities, open enrollment and building grade configurations.
With such major changes being considered for the district, the Board has been working with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission in assessing the condition of our buildings, and most recently entered into a contract with Elevar Design Group to assist the District in developing and reviewing options that would provide a sustainable facilities model while also providing for the educational needs of our students. This work will be going on throughout the 2018/19 school year with the expectation that we will then be able to make decisions in the Spring of 2019. Elevar’s services will include working with the staff and community members as they explore our options. We encourage everyone to become involved as this work is likely to have a significant impact on the District for many years into the future. The next meetings are on October 30 and November 14. Both meetings are at New Richmond Middle School at 7:00 p.m.
We will issue additional updates over the course of the next year so that the process used is transparent and the community remains informed.
APRIL 2018 FINANCIAL UPDATE
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.