Bettsville looking at significant shortfall

BETTSVILLE – Bettsville Local Schools might see a substantial deficit at the end of the fiscal year.

According to Barb Bechtel, fiscal consultant through the Ohio Department of Education, the Seneca County Auditor’s draft report said the district is to have about $775,000 in deficit; the report is to still be finalized by the state, Bechtel said.

Bettsville Treasurer Roger Luhring said, according to the auditor’s preliminary report, the district is to be declared in fiscal emergency Feb. 6. From there, a Financial Recovering Planning and Supervision Commission is to be established.

According to the Ohio Department of Education website, the commission consists of five voting members of the community, three appointed business members, a parent with a child in the district and a businessperson appointed by the mayor or county auditor.

Once appointed, the commission is to meet Feb. 21.

The commission has powers “to review or assume responsibility for tax budges, levy requests, appropriation measures, certificates of estimated resources, ensure a balanced budget, inspect and secure copies of documents, bring accounting reports and procedures into compliance with auditor requirements, make necessary contracts, make recommendations, and make reductions,” according to the ODE site.

“The commission works together with the local board of education, along with input from the community on what direction the district is to go,” Bechtel said.

Bechtel had been contacted by Luhring in November due to a cash flow (situation) where the district was having a lack of cash to cover current expenses. Bechtel said she was asked to come in and help.

She has been assisting Luhring with what revenue is coming and and to make sure payroll is still made.

Bechtel said there has not been enough cash for other bills and the district’s priority is to make sure employees are paid.

The district has about 21 certified teaching staff and eight non-certified staff in food service, maintenance and busing.

“We are very cautious on what is being paid,” Luhring said.

The district has been meeting with auditors who are conducting a performance audit on all aspects of the operations, such as evaluating food, energy and staffing.

“The auditors are to provide the district with recommendations on different ways the district can save money,” Luhring said.

For the year, Luhring said the district pays about $115,000 in gas and electric.

“The amount differs depending on the winter and summer months,” he said.

In revenue, the district is receiving District Foundation payments on average of $50,000 a month. Luhring said that amount varies due to deductions.

The district is also receiving $46,000 quarterly from their income tax renewal that passed in May of last year. The next payment is to be made Thursday.

Lurhing also said the district had asked for a $17,000 advance from the county auditor in collected taxes.

Superintendent Gregg Pettit had said in a previous interview an obstacle the district is experiencing is the loss of open enrollment students.

For the 2013-14 school year, the district has 68 students enrolling out of the district and 41 students enrolling in. There are a total of 157 students in the building, Luhring said.

“With the size of the district, students leaving can have a large impact,” Bechtel said.