D.167 finances are OK for now

2014-02-17T00:00:00Z D.167 finances are OK for nowDavid P. Funk Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
February 17, 2014 12:00 am  • 

GLENWOOD | Brookwood District 167 has its financial house in order for now, but if the state's finances are not better the district could see deficits in its budget in the next five years, a school official told the board.

The School Board on Tuesday heard a presentation from Bloom Township School Treasurer Robert Grossi, who gave a five-year financial projection report that showed a balanced budget for 2014 but potential hardships in the near future.

"I've never been in a situation where I've felt so pessimistic long-term about school funding (from the state)," Grossi said. "I cannot envision a scenario over the next five years where your revenues are going to grow by more than two percent and I could certainly see a scenario where your revenues decrease."

District 167 derives 33 percent of its revenue from the state, which is more than many other Illinois districts, but its normal for the area, Grossi said. Only about 51 percent comes from real estate taxes, he said.

That makes the district vulnerable to the state's fiscal issues. Grossi said bills that will be piling up at the state level over the next five years make it difficult to imagine an increase in education spending any time soon.

"If I was showing this to a place like New Trier, 95 percent would be from real estate taxes and they'd get almost no money from the state," Grossi said. "The state's financial problems are not relevant to them, but it's very relevant to your district."

Grossi stressed that his projections were just assumptions based on the current state of things, but predicted the district to run increasing deficits each of the next five years. In 2018, he estimated the deficit to total just under $1 million.

"This would mean that your fund balances would slowly begin to erode, but the district over the next five years is projected to continue to be above its three-month reserves," Grossi said. "You've put yourself in a good position because you've always spent within your means."

Grossi said 2012 and 2013 were probably some of the worst the district has ever had financially.

"The primary reason for that is that you guys are dependent on state and federal funds on the revenue side. And on the expenditure side, you've had some exceptional years of claims in your medical fund," Grossi told the board.

Legacy Professionals LLP performed an audit for the district as required by the state board of education and partner Louise King also spoke to the School Board on Tuesday.

King said the district over-expended in five funds in the last fiscal year, but there were no problems with the audit and the budget overall is balanced.

King also said there were some issues of a lack of oversight on individuals handling the activity fund.

"This is not saying that any fraud happened here, simply that you need to tighten control of your reviewing the disbursements," King said. "If you have one individual who's handling the disbursements, looking at the bank statements, no one else is looking at it so there's always that opportunity for something to occur."

Superintendent Valorie Moore said the district will be making strides to provide more oversight on its finances.

"It's very important that we have the checks and balances in place that there's secretaries, that you have procedures set up that they're using," Moore said. "I believe in transparency and I will continue to practice, through my actions, the transparency that's needed. Any recommendations that our auditors have for us, we will follow through."

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