Ottawa Chamber gets update on Ottawa-Glandorf school finances

By Bryan Reynolds -

OTTAWA — On Tuesday, Ottawa-Glandorf Superintendent Don Horstman gave members of the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce a financial update for the school district after the income tax levy passed during the primary election in May.

“We are grateful to the community for supporting us by voting for the levy,” Horstman said. “If it had not passed in May, we would have put it on the ballot again, asking for the same amount in November. If it hadn’t passed in November, you would have seen massive cuts to staff and programs, which would have harmed our students.”

Horstman said the school district faces many of the same budget challenges businesses face. Expenses like state and federal government mandates and insurance cost the district a lot of money. Peterson and Autism scholarships cost a great deal of money, as well. Ottawa-Glandorf schools has a budget of roughly a $15 million, and last year the district spent around $1 million on special education.

The school district’s spending and end-of-year cash balance will still be fluctuating for a few years even after the tax levy passed, Horstman said.

“If you look at the 2018-19 fiscal year for us, we’re projected to end the year with roughly $1.4 million in deficit spending,” Horstman said. “Part of that is we’re still dealing with the same financial situation that lead us to the levy. That doesn’t go into effect until January 1 and our first collection won’t be until April of 2019. And we’re only projected to collect $155,000 to $160,000 from the income tax in that first year.”

Because of the delay in collecting levy funds, Ottawa-Glandorf schools is projected to end the 2019-20 school year with another spending deficit. The district is projected to see a spending surplus of approximately $208,000 for the 2020-21 school year thanks to the levy. During the following fiscal year, another deficit of around $186,000 is expected.

“Well, you finally start hitting your full collections and then you start looking at all of our costs — things like insurance and retirement benefits,” Horstman said.

Despite the fluctuating projected spending for the next four school years Ottawa-Glandorf schools is projected to have over $1 million in the bank at the end of each fiscal year during that time.

By Bryan Reynolds

Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.

Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.

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