Spending more than it makes will empty the Wellington school board’s piggy bank — and then some — by 2021, according to a forecast filed with the Ohio Department of Education.
Projections by district treasurer Tina Gabler show the district gradually spending down its $3.8 million cash reserve starting at the end of fiscal year 2017 and being $607,896 in the hole within five years.
The school system ended October with $5.3 million in its general fund, while bringing in $26,796 more than it was spending. But by the time June 30 rolls around, Gabler said she expects to have spent $24,865 more than will be made in taxes and other income.
The imminent purchase of new bleachers and possibly new buses will kick up expenses, said Gabler.
She anticipates deficit spending of $401,380 in 2018, growing to $1.9 million by 2021, eating away at Wellington’s savings.
Gabler said that’s OK.
“A lot of treasurers will say they want to save for a rainy day,” she said. “I always wonder which rainy day they’re referring to. A household saves for a rainy for if someone loses their job or income. You can’t treat a business like your personal income. In this business, for the most part, we’re guaranteed our revenue. I agree we have to have a certain number of dollars in reserve, but beyond that, we need to be putting our money back into the students of Wellington.”
“We will be deficit spending but every treasurer kind of has a different philosophy with that,” she said. “When I look at Wellington’s numbers, the size of our district, our carryover, and what needs to be done, we need to be deficit spending. We’re not the First Savings of Wellington. It’s not our job to build up a huge savings for the district. We will always receive our foundation payments from the state based on the number of students we have.”
She does not foresee the need for cuts to offset increased spending.
“In fact, there are many positions that we need to fill,” she said. “We have some grant money that will go toward some additional staff. To my knowledge, there are no areas that need to be cut.”
Former treasurer Michael Pissini and former superintendent Dennis Mock weighed the merits of a future levy for new buses last spring.
Since Wellington does not have a permanent improvement school levy, up to $150,000 is taken each year from the general fund and put into a permanent improvement fund.
“They talked about a levy but I don’t feel like there’s a need for it currently,” said Gabler. “The new McCormick building has a maintenance fund built in with the project. By continuing to add to our own permanent improvement fund it will accommodate the other two buildings.”
Before former superintendent Dennis Mock left the district, he pointed to 2019 as a time when cuts in state funding toward the purchase of new buses could severely hurt Wellington’s finances.
“Generally speaking, I can budget for this year and next year pretty accurately,” said Gabler. “Beyond that, it’s an educated guess. We have a new president-elect and will have a new state budget, so any government changes will also filter down and affect school districts.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise Wellington Schools treasurer Tina Gabler says now is the right time for deficit spending. “A lot of treasurers will say they want to save for a rainy day,” she said. “I always wonder which rainy day they’re referring to.”