Treasurer Ashley Brudno presented a five-year financial forecast for the Chagrin Falls Exempted Village School District to the school board recently, focusing on cash flow, improvement projects and the possible need for a levy within the next four years.
Mrs. Brudno explained during the Nov. 20 meeting that the district would be working at a deficit starting in fiscal year 2020 as it stands now, with the district falling below its cash balance policy by 2022. With that in mind, the board discussed scenarios for passing levies in the next five years.
“If we change nothing and we don’t pass any additional millage, increase our revenue or reduce our expenditures in any manner, by the end of 2024 we would be negative $1.3 million in cash,” Mrs. Brudno said. “Obviously, we can’t do that, so something has to change between now and 2024 be that increasing revenue or reducing spending or some combination thereof.”
Mrs. Brudno also explained to those present that the district is reliant on local property taxes with those being 76.8 percent of the district’s revenue. The district does not get nearly as much state funding as many believe, with only 6.7 percent of the district’s revenue coming from state taxes, she said.
According to Mrs. Brudno, a 4-mill levy at the district would be falling off in 2020. Board President Kathryn Garvey suggested that the levy could be replaced in a variety of ways, possibly with the intent to use that money more directly for permanent or capital improvements, considering that the district currently makes improvements out of its operating budget.
With the district working at a deficit, the board discussed a variety of scenarios where a small levy could be passed in 2020 and a larger levy could be passed one to three years later.
According to plans presented by Chris Woofter, director of operations and strategic initiatives, the district should take on three projects in the next five years. These include replacing the tennis courts, constructing a new transportation garage for buses and renovating Gurney Elementary School to include a new STEM, media and arts wing.
The board discussed completing the tennis courts by June of 2020, with the bus garage project taking place in the summer of 2022. While the funding for the tennis courts is available, board member Phil Rankin suggested that the district could consider a certificate of participation, which is a type of investor loan, to fund the bus garage since it is a longer-term investment.
The recommendations for changes at Gurney Elementary School, which would take place within the next five years, included increasing parking area by moving the playground to the back of the building, as well as renovating the building itself to include the space that is currently added by learning trailers. The board may also consider further renovations, such as reconfiguring the location of the main offices at the building.
These three projects will cost the district $3.5 million over the next five years, according to Mr. Woofter. Permanent improvements, which are basic repairs and maintenance, with bus replacement being included in that cost, are estimated to cost $10 million over the next five years.
The board decided to consider the information they’d been presented about the improvement needs at the district and return to them in the future, with plans to discuss the immediate plans for the tennis court project and the beginning phases of the transportation garage project at the next meeting Dec. 11.