Prepared Notes for Board Meeting

July 27, 2009

Marc A. Schare

614 791-0067

marc9@aol.com

 

First, a brief legislative update. The State Budget has been finalized and Worthington did about as well as can be expected considering the circumstances.Our number one legislative priority, the permanent reimbursement of tangible personal property taxes, came very close to becoming law. Over time, the reimbursement is worth tens of millions of dollars to Worthington and could save local taxpayers significant dollars. The reimbursement was proposed and passed by the Ohio Senate and then maintained in the conference committee and passed by both House and Senate until finally succumbing to a line item veto by Governor Strickland. Lest you think this is a partisan rant, every Democrat in the Ohio House voted to permanently reimburse the tangible personal property tax, every Democrat in the Senate voted to reimburse Worthington for our loses and that the only Democrat to vote against that final proposal was, in fact, the Governor. As it is, the Governor did extend the reimbursement through FY13. The forecast suggests that the two extra years of reimbursement could be worth around 8 million dollars to Worthington and could have a direct effect on the levy amount. The Treasurer reports he will have the actual number in time for the August 10 meeting. In vetoing this provision, the Governor states that his preference would be to use state dollars to fund the phase in of the EBM and that he didnít want to continue the inequitable distribution of resources, a statement that is odd considering the miniscule portion of our revenue we receive from the state. Fortunately, the Governor concludes his veto message by mentioning that he is committed to a robust dialogue on the issue in the future.

 

The other interesting component on the revenue side is the reduction of the charge off from 23 mills to 20 mills over 3 biennia. Since our forecast and our levy amount is based on at least 3 years, it seems clear that we must calculate our state aid in the second biennia using the new model and the new charge off numbers to hazard even a guess at what the levy amount should be. It is possible that we could come off the guarantee by the third year of this budget. It is also a very real possibility that the budget, or those that follow, will again be completely rewritten and that it is difficult to trust the numbers coming out of state government given revenue predictions and the use of one time money.

 

On the expense side, the inclusion of the Evidence Based Model into state law is not helpful to Worthington. In an era where we are discussing cutting programs, the state legislature and our Governor has decided that our highest priority needs to be all day Kindergarten,a program that many Worthington parents were all too happy to pay for. The legislature decided that rather than the parents paying this bill, their neighbors should share the cost and this could cost Worthington taxpayers around a million dollars per year. There are many other mandates which are of concern, primarily the class size mandate which would have the singular effect of forcing us to divert resources away from the breadth of our program in pursuit of smaller class sizes. This is a choice that Worthington taxpayers, not Columbus politicians should be making and the costs of compliance, both in physical infrastructure and human resources is quite high.

 

Many of the mandates are still to be determined and apparently, the State Board of Education will be playing a larger role. With the boardís permission, Iíd like to start a dialogue with Worthingtonís representative on the State Board to make sure that our representative understands our views and our priorities. Unfortunately, the State Board of Education could not be more invisible if they were in the witness protection program, and this needs to change if they are going to be making significant decisions that impact our programs and our budgets. Perhaps inviting our representative to a board work session might be appropriate as they deliberate these issues.

 

All in all, it should be noted that of the 10 items we took to the legislature, we received positive, all be it partial results from 7 of them, including a reduction in calamity days and the continuation of the ability to RIF for financial reasons.

 

Finally, Iíd like to offer kudos to the administration with regard to last nightís forum. I was pleased to see the large turnout and I thought the event went off smoothly despite the obvious differences of opinions among audience members. I look forward to seeing the results of the surveys.