Chagrin schools are still expecting drops in revenue through 2021 with hopes numbers will begin climbing again by 2022, district Treasurer Ashley Brudno said in an informal presentation to the board Finance and Budget Committee last week.

Mrs. Brudno presented a draft for the five-year forecast during the committee’s Oct. 28 meeting, emphasizing that the numbers are not yet finalized and could still be subject to major change over the next few weeks. She said she will present the official forecast to the board for approval during their Nov. 18 meeting.

Board member and finance and budget committee Chairwoman Kathryn Garvey said the Capital Planning Committee will also take an informal look at the draft forecast before it is ready for board approval.

This year’s fall five-year forecast felt like “throwing a dart” in some categories, Mrs. Brudno said, due to the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic, whether the district will get back state funding cuts it saw last year and the fate of the 3.85-mill levy yet to be determined at the time.

Last spring, the district received a $145,000-cut in state funding due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mrs. Brudno said the forecast is an “operating document” that she looks at throughout the year, describing it as a management tool.

In her draft she showed the district’s financial summary comparing the district’s revenue, both with and without the passage of the levy, against the district’s expenditures. Even with the passage of the levy, she said the district is still expecting a drop in revenue.

“We’re still expecting revenue to drop this year, and that’s mainly because of tax collections,” she said. “We do expect things to try to pick up in 2022 and then slowly [get] back to normal as we hope the economy improves.”

She said even with the passage of the 3.85-mill levy, the district’s expenditures will exceed revenue in 2021. She said this will not cause a cash balance deficit, but the remaining cash balance will decrease by the end of the year.

In 2021, without factoring in the passage of the levy, the spending deficit is estimated to be about $1.2 million, according to the drafted forecast with total spending at $31.9 million and total revenue at $30.7 million. The resulting end cash balance was expected to be $12.7 million.

Mrs. Brudno explained fall tax collections are down by 4 percent compared to last year’s fall collections. She said she expects this trend to continue this spring.

“[In the] spring of last year, I did not think that,” she said. “If I’ve learned anything in the last six months it’s that I have no idea what the future holds.

“In March I would have never thought that we would be doing this meeting via Zoom,” she later added.

Mrs. Brudno said normal collections have been near 99 percent the last few years, but districts have been told by county auditors to expect 95 percent collections.

“In 2022, hopefully, things will pick up, hopefully [COVID-19] will be out of our lives and the economy will pick up,” Mrs. Brudno said.

She added that forecasts look different across all school districts in the state. “We can’t agree,” she said, noting treasurers who think revenue will never pick back up on the “doom and gloom” side and others who believe everything will be back to normal come spring.

“I really, really hope I’m right, and things get back to normal in 2022.”

Sam joined the Times in 2019 and covers several communities and schools in the Chagrin Valley and Geauga County. She also oversees the features/community events and the website. She earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University.

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