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Lots of black ink in Ohio

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012 3:20 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012 4:55 p.m. CDT

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OHIO — Thanks to a gusty blast of wind farm money, the Ohio High School Board was happy to approve its latest budget Monday night.

“The good news is we have a positive balance in all funds, and we have a balanced budget,” said Superintendent Sharon Sweger.

A bare bones board — reduced in numbers due to Ohio’s participation in Monday’s BVEC volleyball tournament in Ladd — unanimously approved the budget for the 2012-13 school year. The budget projects $1,335,355 in revenues and $1,244,728 in expenditures for a positive balance of more than $90,000.

Sweger said the budget reflects a decrease in the categorical revenues the district is entitled to from the state in the areas of special education and transportation, since the district hasn’t received that money from the state in the last four or five years.

The budget also reflects decreased revenue from state and federal programs that have been discontinued.

The budget also includes about $250,000 in additional expenditures more than the previous year because of the purchase of an additional bus, several maintenance projects and higher salaries.

Sweger said the wind farm property tax more than makes up for the shortages. This is the first year the district will receive its full share of wind farm tax dollars, as last year the district received only a prorated amount.

In addition to the wind farm money, Sweger said the district will still receive its usual amount of state aid. That aid will be decreased eventually to reflect the additional wind farm dollars, but Sweger said she has not been able to find out whether the reduction will come next year or the year after that.

Taking all funds together, Sweger said the district is projected to reach June 30, 2013, with a total fund balance of $625,507.

Sweger said a healthy fund balance is necessary for the future of the district.

“It’s our intent to increase our fund balance, so that if the turbines were to go away, we would have to have enough money to sustain the district between that time and the time the state aid picks back up,” she said.

Sweger said there has been a faction of people who say the wind farm money can go away as quickly as it came. While she doesn’t expect that to happen, she does want to be prepared for when the contract expires in 20 years.

“If they don’t renew, it would take the state a couple of years to raise the state aid back up,” she said. “We’re planning for a rainy day.”

Sweger actually expects the total fund balance to be even higher.

“Typically we come out better off than projected,” she said.

Last year the budget projected a deficit of $70,000, and the district ended the year with a $48,000 surplus. The district had ended the previous year with a $8,400 surplus.

Board President Harold Albrecht was pleased to see the fund balance increasing but urged caution.

“It sounds like a lot of money, but it can go in a hurry,” he said.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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