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More funding expected for Oak Hill

BY Spencer Durham - sdurham@chronicle-tribune.com

MIER — Oak Hill United School Corporation will receive more revenue from the state for at least the first half of 2018 due to an increase in students.

Business Manager Deb Smith presented the Oak Hill school board with a recap of the school’s 2017 finances at Monday evening’s meeting. During her presentation, Smith said the corporation’s enrollment increased again. Oak Hill counted 1,716 students at the annual count day in September. February’s count is down 11 students from the fall, however, this does not factor into funding.

Smith said due to the increase the state has projected revenue to grow by more than $194,000. However, this is not a guarantee, Smith said. The funding the district will receive for its students will be based on the school’s enrollment number for January through June of this year. However, the revenue received in the latter half of 2018 could change.

“There are many things that can impact the Basic Grant (revenue based on student funding) that the state uses to work our 2018 budget,” Smith said. “It’s never a figure that’s set in stone.”

This includes various other count days that impact funding. They include count days for special education students, technical and vocational students and honors students, as well as the September count day this coming fall.

Whatever adjustments are made to the school’s funding will be adjusted and reflected in the November and December payments Oak Hill will receive, Smith said.

General fund revenue increased, though so did expenditures in 2017 exceeding revenue by a little more than $250,000. Revenue gained via interest increased by $14,900, a figure Smith is happy with given interest rates.

Overall, the school spent 92.6 percent of what it was allotted to spend in 2017.

“Anytime you’re 100 percent, that’s a good thing,” Smith said. “It helps your cash balance carrying forward for the next year.”

The school had to make significant cuts to its capital projects fund for 2018 due to circuit breaker losses in property taxes. Smith said decreases in assessed property values impacted this. Circuit breaker losses, or tax caps, are due to limits on how much tax revenue local government bodies can collect on homestead, residential, commercial and personal property.

For 2017, Oak Hill lost out on $76,868 in Grant County. Smith said the state estimated the school would lose $262,600 in circuit breaker losses in 2018. Smith said this impacted how the 2018 budget was crafted, hence the cuts to the capital projects fund. Smith said she received a revised estimate from the Department of Local Government and Finance that has estimated circuit breaker losses at $103,240 for 2018. Smith said she felt the initial estimate was a bit high.

Though the estimate adversely impacted the school’s budget for 2018, the district may receive some good news after property tax revenue is calculated.

“If our losses are not that high, we will end the year with a better cash balance,” Smith said. “We’ll collect more of our property taxes than they thought. It is a good thing but using that high estimate really impacted our capital projects fund.”

The school saw an increase to its contribution to employee health insurance from 2016 to 2017. Other notable expenses include the purchase of two 72-passenger buses and one student activity vehicle, totaling $223,000.

Smith said she does not foresee expenditures remaining the same for 2018 as factors such as raises being given, insurance costs, paying out unemployment and other expenses impacted 2017 in a way that probably won’t be seen in 2018.