Batavia school district looking to trim expenses

Batavia Local School District Board of Education members are beginning to plan how they will trim spending next year after getting a better idea of what the budget may be.

“At the end of last school year we needed to cut $1.5 million, and we did,” Michael Ashmore, treasurer for the district, said.

Ashmore said even with the reductions, the district will probably not be able to balance the budget this year because they received less than what they projected in property taxes.

“We came within $200,000 of balancing the budget,” Ashmore said. “Property taxes came in about $180,000 below what we had projected.”

Ashmore said the news came as a bit of surprise to district officials because they had budgeted conservatively for the property taxes.

“The reason that it is subject to fluctuation is there are delinquencies, new construction and every three years the county auditor is required to update property values.”

Ashmore said property values, which are decreasing, were collected this year.

“It’s a combination of all of that,” Ashmore said about what led to the reduction in property tax revenue.

Ashmore said they are still hopeful they will may receive another receipt for incoming property tax revenue, but it is unlikely at this point.

“This year we didn’t exactly balance the budget, but we budgeted enough of a cash carry-over that we can get through,” Ashmore said.

He said the cash balance in the reserve fund has been depleted, which is why the district has a goal to balance the budget each year.

Ashmore said looking ahead to next year, board members will have to again make cuts or find additional revenue to be able to balance the budget and avoid using even more of the reserve cash balance.

“For many years we’ve tapped into that to where it is dangerously low,” Ashmore said. “At some point it is not going to be there to tap in to.”

Ashmore said the board is currently looking at where they can not only cut costs for next year, but also be able to build back the reserve.

He said the district will likely start seeing utility savings next year from the improvement projects they completed this year, and board members are working on cutting costs in other areas as well.

“We think we can do some of those savings without touching personnel at this point,” Ashmore said.

Ashmore said board members are working on the specifics of a cost-cutting plan for next year and will be discussing the plan in the near future.