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Coventry treasurer presents bleak five-year forecast

10/18/2012 - South Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

The Coventry Local Schools Board of Education honored the “Star Student Achievers” for October at the Oct. 16 meeting. The award winners include, from left: (back row) Taylor Kinsinger, for Coventry High School, and Adam Marsh, for Coventry Middle School; and (front row) Colby Ragland, for Erwine Middle School, and Jonathan Clemente, for Turkeyfoot Elementary School.
Photo: Emily Chesnic
COVENTRY — Coventry Local Schools expects a $1.5 million deficit in the General Fund in 2017, but that deficit would be about $11.6 million if district voters do not approve Issue No. 70, a 9.96-mill emergency renewal levy on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot.

“If the levy does not pass, it would be catastrophic,” said Council President David Andrews at the Oct. 16 Board of Education meeting. “We are asking voters to support Issue No. 70.”

Treasurer Aaron Butts presented his five-year forecast, which he is required to share with the board bi-annually by law, during the meeting. Council later unanimously approved the forecast. Butts showed the board the district would end fiscal year 2014 with a deficit of $1.3 million if Issue No. 70 is not approved by voters.

“This forecast is a snapshot of our current finances and future projections based on economic assumptions and projects,” he said.

Butts explained the district budgeted for about $20 million for fiscal year 2012 and is projected to end the year with a balance of about $52,000 in the General Fund due to the district’s reduction-in-force (RIF) plan.

When Butts became treasurer in August 2011 in Coventry, he said a deficit was projected through fiscal year 2016, which led to the RIF plan.

He explained the district simply is not generating enough revenue, due in part to funding cuts at the state level, to pay its expenditures.

Through the RIF plan, however, the district saved more than $1.5 million in personnel expenses through the elimination of positions, retirements and layoffs, Butts said.

The district also was able to cut about $335,000 in employees’ retirement and insurance benefits; about $97,000 in purchase services; $2,500 in supplies; and $150,000 in capital outlay spending, which included the elimination of purchases such as laptops and other equipment, he said.

In addition, the district was able to save more than $1 million in April 2012 by switching to a new insurance company and deferring several of the district’s premium payments, which will begin to be repaid next year at a minimal interest rate, Butts said.

“That and the reduction-in-force saved Coventry,” he said.

According to Butts, there are no new levies scheduled for the forecast, but he drew up his financial assumptions for the next five years based on the approval of Issue No. 70.

“This emergency levy is critical,” he said.

Butts explained the 9.96-mill emergency renewal levy makes up about 32 percent of the district’s General Fund, which is a third of the yearly budget.

Coventry receives about $2.9 million each year through the levy, first approved in 2003 and renewed by voters in 2008, he said.

Butts wants residents to know the levy is not a new tax, and if approved, owners of a $100,000 home could expect to pay $25.42 per month and $19.06 if the owner is older than 65 years old.

In addition to the levy passing, he said the board would continue to seek ways to help reduce or eliminate the deficit the district is facing beginning in fiscal year 2015. Butts said there would be limited spending done in fiscal year 2013 and there are no projections to increase expenditures. He added the district administrators and teachers have not received a raise since 2009.

Butts said district voters also would have to approve a 6.45-mill emergency levy renewal in 2015 to keep the district moving in the right direction fiscally. This levy generates about $2 million a year.

Also during the meeting, board member Robert Wohlgamuth reported on Barberton Local School District’s request to the state to have about 120 acres of land in the Coventry Local School District annexed into its district, since the piece of property is in Barberton.

“We try to fight for every single dollar,” he said.

Wohlgamuth said Coventry is asking the Ohio Board of Education to deny the request, as the district would lose money generated through the property.

He explained that Barberton would like the property annexed into its school district because the city plans to develop an industrial park on the site.

Wohlgamuth said he has vocalized to state officials how important the revenue generated through the land has and will continue to be to Coventry Local Schools.

“We should hear the result of the request in 30 days,” he said.

Also during the meeting, the board took time to reflect on the life of Jim Provence, a 1942 district graduate who recently died.

The board members each said they appreciated Provence’s involvement in the district, which included his attendance at regular meetings.

The former 19-year Alumni Association president was instrumental in naming the football field, Coventry Memorial Stadium, and began the alumni achievement award, which he was too humble to ever accept, Andrews said.

Board member Vicki Tavenier said he provided valuable knowledge on the history of the district he loved.

“He absolutely will be missed,” Andrews said. “He did so much for the community and district.”

Additionally during the meeting, the board accepted a donation of $500 from the sports boosters and Erwine PTA for an ice machine at Erwine; $500 to the Dave McCormick Scholarship from Daniel McCormick; and $300 from an anonymous donor to the athletic department.

The board ended the meeting in executive session, with no action taken, to discuss real estate matters.

The next regular board meeting will take place Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. at Coventry High School, 3089 Manchester Road.

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