VINCENT - The granted appeal of a tax bill from several years ago has cost the Warren Local school district more than $160,000.
The Warren board of education approved an amended appropriation during its regular meeting Monday night. Treasurer Melcie Wells said a repayment of about $75,000 after a local business entity appealed its tangible personal property tax amount from five or six years back had been built into the budget, but the final number turned out to be higher.
"The total ended up being $200,800.55," Wells said. "That is an additional expense that was not anticipated at the beginning of the year."
The entity receiving the refund was identified only as a "local business taxpayer" on the invoice received from the auditor's office.
The actual amount for which Warren was on the hook is $164,638.52 after the district received $36,162.03 from the county auditor's office from a delinquent taxpayer.
Because a portion of the refund had been anticipated, the actual hit to the district's general fund will be about $90,000. Wells said no specific cuts have been made and the district will monitor the situation as the year continues.
At a glance
Warren Local budget adjustments:
- Money returned due to taxpayer appeal - $200,800.55.
- Money received from delinquent taxpayer - $36,162.03.
- Total remitted to county auditor's office - $164,638.52.
Source: Warren Local Schools.
Wells noted that while the taxpayer can challenge what it considers an incorrect assessment, the district has no recourse in this situation.
"There's not even a process where we can fight the appeal," she said.
The most recent five-year forecast, which did not include the full refund amount, projects the district spending about $1.36 million more than it takes in this year, while still carrying approximately $4.25 million into the 2013-14 fiscal year. As deficit spending continues, that carryover amount drops into the negative by the end of fiscal 2014-15, according to the forecast.
Also during the meeting, the board and Superintendent Tom Gibbs discussed the superintendent and treasurer evaluations slated for December's meeting. In January, board members will discuss with their counterparts in the Fort Frye Local school district whether to continue the sharing of Gibbs' and Wells' services between the districts.
Gibbs said after last week's Fort Frye meeting that he would be inclined to continue the arrangement, which started in May, despite the inherent challenges. Some Fort Frye board members indicated they were pleased with the situation, including Wells taking on a dual role in January. Warren board Vice President Debbie West thinks it's working too, and not just because of the more than $74,000 a year the district expects to save.
"I think the service that we've received is as good as always," she said
One topic not discussed during Monday's meeting was voters' rejection of a 3.45-mill bond issue and 5-mill permanent improvement levy on Nov. 6. District officials have said there would be more cuts in the future if the issue, which would have raised money for the local share of building a new high school and repairs to existing buildings failed.
"Enough's been said the last four years, I don't know that anything we'd say at tonight's meeting would change anything," Gibbs said Monday, adding they he does not expect to recommend putting another tax issue before voters until an emergency levy is up for renewal in 2014.
The next step will be to request a staffing analysis from the Ohio Department of Education in January to see how many positions the district is over state minimum requirements. Gibbs has said he expects it to be about five, which would mean eliminating all-day, everyday kindergarten and more electives at the high school.
Board President Bob Allen said the district's repair priorities will be evaluated at the next building and grounds committee meeting in January.
"Knowing we have limited funds, we're going to have to focus on the most critical items," he said.