Prepared Notes for Board Meeting
July 27, 2009
Marc A. Schare
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.