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The Press Newspaper

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B-C-S financial situation improves
 

Officials of the Benton-Carroll-Salem School District point to cost-cutting measures for getting through the fiscal year without having to tap into cash reserves – the first time in five years the Ottawa County district didn’t have to tap into reserves to balance the budget.

Calling it a “long, painstaking task” to cut costs, the school board and administration reduced expenses by almost 12 percent over the course of one year to help end deficit spending.

“While it is certainly great to have eliminated deficit spending this past year, it is a trend we would like to see continued and we will work very hard to try and make it happen,” said Tim Coffman, district treasurer.

The austerity measures and lower student enrollment resulted in major changes for the district. It started the 2012-13 school year with 40 fewer teaching and non-teaching positions and has completed a plan for consolidating classes at Graytown, Carroll, and Rocky Ridge schools into the RC Waters School that was reconfigured to house kindergarten through the eighth grade.

Fourth grade classes are being held at the middle school and eighth graders were placed in a wing of the high school.

The moves required different starting times for the buildings and bus routes were reconfigured into single routes from double routes used in the past, which also saved operating revenues.

Guy Parmigian, district superintendent, credited the staff and parents of students for enabling the changes.

“The strength and resiliency of all B-C-S staff, and putting students first, have made the 2012-2013 transition school year a success for the school district,” he said.

Coffman describes the district’s revenue streams as “relatively stagnant” and Parmigian said the administration has adopted a zero-sum approach to the district’s finances so that, where possible, any new expense is offset by a spending reduction somewhere else.

According to the district’s June financial statement, it incurred general fund expenses for the last fiscal year of about $17.1 million – about $2.1 million or 11 percent less than the previous fiscal year.

General fund revenues for the last fiscal year were $17.9 million – about $90,000 less than the previous fiscal year.

The district reduced its spending on salaries and benefits by about 21.6 percent in the 2012-13 fiscal year from the year before.

The district is challenging FirstEnergy’s appeal to the county board of revision to have the property tax valuation of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station lowered by about $22 million.

Jennifer Young, a spokesperson for FirstEnergy, said the company decided to appeal the valuation after the county completed its property reassessment in 2012.

She said some buildings and structures at the power station outside Oak Harbor should be listed as tax exempt.

A reduction of $22 million in valuation would translate into a revenue loss of about $210,000 a year for the district.  It would take an increase of about 1.1 mills in property taxes to recoup that loss, Coffman said.

The school board filed a counter complaint in May with the board of revision, he said.

A 3.9-mill levy to fund district operations expires at the end of this year. It generates about $1.2 million annually.

Ebola outbreak

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