Monday, February 25, 2008

Olentangy Levy: the truth using district data

Given all the nonsense, threats, and lies coming out of the district, I decided to once again provide a simple explanation regarding the supposed need for a levy in March. And, I am going to use the district's own numbers so that you can easily verify what I am saying.

By law, the district must file a Five-Year Financial Forecast every October. Here it is:

Please note line 10.010 for FY09. That entry shows the ending deficit as $2,059,854 -- not the $10.5 million that the superintendent is claiming.

State laws requires districts to show no deficit in the first projected fiscal year; the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2009 (FY09). To remove the deficit, a district can make cuts, avoid new costs, find other funding, etc.

On page 7, you will note that base salary increases account for $1,929,246 million of new expenditures in FY09 (this does not include an additional approximately $270,000 that the district pays into state retirement systems due to these salary increases - page 7).

Also note that step and education increases provide $2.6 million for teachers, even without any base salary increase. So, teachers will still receive salary increases even with a zero percent increase in base pay. In fact, they will receive almost the 4% increase that is standard in the private sector.

By way of comparison: When the state was going through a period of fiscal problems, they negotiated a zero increase for all state workers. Zero; no step increase, no education increase, nothing.

In addition, health insurance increases account for another $2.4 million -- the district is assuming a 12% increase in its contribution per employee covered (page 8) -- note: taxpayers contribute $1005 per month for family coverage.

So, salary increases (base salary plus state contributions) and health insurance are the root cause of the deficit. It's not growth or any other factor. It's simply salaries and benefits.

To protect salaries and benefits, the superintendent is proposing cuts to programs. On top of that, he has created the illusion that he must cut $10.5 million in order to right the deficit.

Look for yourself, the deficit is only $2 million. The $10.5 million is a threatened punishment for not supporting the superintendent.

The district's financial situation is an expense issue, not a "district on the edge" issue.

It's all there in the district's Five-Year Forecast. The truth is easy to discern despite the district's spin and lies. A really convenient truth at that.

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