OH Board Of Education Approves $15.5M Budget For FY18

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The Ottawa Hills Board of Education in June approved an operating budget of nearly $15.5 million for fiscal year 2018, that started July 1. That is an increase of 6.9 percent, or $1,002,543, over the budget for fiscal year 2017, that ended June 30.

At $8,668,716, salaries make up nearly 56 percent of the district's operating budget. Fringe benefits, which include medical benefits, are the second largest expense at $3,368,935, or 21.7 percent.

Of the remaining 22.3 percent of the operating budget, purchased services are the third largest group of expenses, at $2,228,045. According to Ottawa Hills Local Schools Treasurer Bradley Browne, purchased services include legal fees, architectural services, property and casualty insurance, and copier rentals. Nearly half of the purchased services budget goes to the district's special education program.

Supplies and materials account for $778,267 in the FY18 budget. This covers instructional materials such as textbooks, computer supplies and software, and consumable supplies like workbooks at the elementary school and art and science supplies at the high school. It also cover's the district's grounds upkeep efforts.

New equipment accounts for $213,825 of the budget. According to Browne a majority of the district's spending for new equipment, such as computers, comes out of the permanent improvement fund. These monies in the operating budget may be used for a new desk or chair for a teacher, a lawn mower or pickup truck, or other minor one-time purchase.

The remaining $235,504 of the operating budget covers miscellaneous expenses, the largest of which is the tax collection fee. It is a fee charged by the county to collect taxes. According to Browne, in FY17 the schools paid $161,372 for tax collection services.

Other miscellaneous expenses include financial reports, biennial audits, election expenses, and professional dues for the school board and administrators.

The FY18 budget predicts $14,877,949 in revenues, with 70 percent, or $10,424,651, coming from real estate taxes. State aid accounts for another 16.7 percent of revenues, at $2,490,907.

The property tax allocation accounts for an additional $1,496,942 in revenues. According to Browne, this is money the district receives from the state in connection with the homestead tax rollback. On all levies passed prior to 2013, homeowners pay 87.5 percent of the amount generated by the levy, and the state pays the other 12.5 percent. The state has since made changes to Ohio law to eliminate the rollback, so homeowners pay the full 100 percent on all levies since 2013.

The district anticipates receiving $243,837 in public utility personal property taxes. According to Browne, utility companies pay a tax on the value of the utility infrastructure, such as utility poles, in the school district.

Other miscellaneous revenues account for the remaining $221,612. This includes non-resident tuition - the district had three tuition students in FY17 - as well as interest income and student fees. Student fees include classroom supply fees and pay to play, or participation, fees.

When managing a multi-million dollar budget, Browne is forced to deal with a variety of unknowns, or factors beyond the district's control.

"We could have a mild or a harsh winter. We don't know what our utility costs will be," he said. "With health insurance, if we lose a single teacher and hire a teacher with a family, our benefit costs would increase."

According to Browne, depending on fluctuating enrollment levels at the elementary school, the district might have to add an additional teacher this summer. That position is not included in the FY18 budget.

Other factors that could impact the budget would be staff who take time off due to the family medical leave act (FMLA).

"Last year we had some teachers on FMLA. They exhausted their sick leave, so we under spent in teacher salaries, and over spent (the budget for) substitute teachers," Browne said.

Browne monitors the budget throughout the year, reporting to the school board each month, and advising the board on revisions every October and May.

"My goal is I'm happy if my budget hits about 97 percent of my estimate for the fiscal year," Browne said. "I don't want to be in the position where I have under estimated on the expense and have to do a budget appropriation or budget modification. I try not to do a lot of budget reallocations during the year."

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