OTTAWA — David Conley, president of Rockmill Financial Consulting LLC, gave a presentation to parents and residents of the Ottawa-Glandorf school district about the 1-percent income tax levy on the May ballot. Conley also answered questions regarding the levy during a meeting Monday at Ottawa-Glandorf Elementary.
In February the school board was informed by Conley the school district’s general fund was showing a decline in revenue over the previous 10 years, with multiple factors contributing to that trend.
One such factor is rising property value in Ottawa and Glandorf, Conley said. State funding to schools is determined by taking property values and dividing those by the number of school-age children. Increased property values lead to dwindling funding to the district.
Another factor is a significant increase in residents 65 years of age and older — 17.8 percent between 2010 and 2016 — while the population of children in Ottawa and Glandorf has decreased by 4.3 percent in that time, both indicators of a shrinking community.
“This type of pattern can change how the district is financed in the future,” he said.
At Monday’s meeting, Conley showed residents the district’s checking account balances from 2007 to 2017, giving them a visual aid to see the steady decline from a $4 million balance in 2007 to $3.5 million in 2017.
In the district’s latest newsletter, Treasurer Kathy Fruchey published the projected end-of-year general fund balances if the levy would not pass. The numbers show the district will end the school year with $2.9 million in the bank. By the end of next year, that total decreases to $1.3 million, and by the end of the 2019-2020 school year, that total drops again to negative $879,187. If the levy doesn’t pass, Fruchey’s numbers show the revenue falling again, and at the end of the 2021-2022 school year, the district’s balance would be negative $5.9 million.
If the levy fails to pass, the subject will have to be revisited again at a later date, Conley said.
“If we’re back here next year, we could be talking about a 1.25-percent increase, a property tax or even cuts,” he said. “We could cut for so long, and that will help for a time, but in a few years, the problem will just come back.”
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.