Auditor: Colona schools leaning heavily on reserves

Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2012, 10:14 pm
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story
By Lisa Hammer,
COLONA -- Auditor Russ Rumbold of Gorenz and Associates, Peoria, described the school district's finances as a three-legged stool supported by fund reserves, annual revenue and the tax rate.

Colona's education tax rate is maxed out, he noted, limiting property taxes, and general state aid has been declining.Colona has been using fund reserves to cover deficits, with fiscal year 2012 ending $65,000 in the red on a $3.7 million budget.

"You broke even basically in fiscal year '12; that's good," he said. "The bad part is that it's a state-aid district.

"You can weather a storm," Mr. Rumbold said. "It's just a matter of how big is the storm, and at some point, it has to return, and you have to replenish the reserves."

Mr. Rumbold said education fund reserves before early June property taxes arrived were $1,359,000, which represents six and a half months of fund balances. The district also has a balance in its working cash fund.

In other business, superintendent Kyle Ganson again discussed the proposed one-cent sales tax referendum for Henry County schools, stressing the $183,000 raised for Colona could only be spent on maintaining the facility and not for salaries.

"If you want facilities and you want services, the bottom line is someone has to pay, and I can't think of a better way than this," he said. Up to two-thirds of the sales tax is expected to be generated by people who don't live in Henry County through purchases at gas stations, restaurants and shops, he said.

The board will vote next month on whether to back the sales tax referendum on the April 2013 ballot.

It also was noted the district's bonds will be paid off in 2017, but the sales tax could allow them to be paid off sooner and lower residents' property taxes, he said.

Mr. Ganson also said, in future years, the district may have to go to voters to raise its education levy.

"To me, this is a critical, critical issue for this and any of the other districts," he said.

Colona spent $254,000 less in fiscal year 2012 than the previous year, he said, mostly because of less American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding.

The board also:

-- Heard school board candidate packets will be available in the superintendent's office and are due back between Dec. 17 and 24. The seats of five school board members -- Jim Legare, Ray Kutzman, Josh Kyser, Jennifer Webster and Cindy Seaman -- will be on the next ballot.

-- Hard contract negotiations for both certified and support staff, health care reform and other reform legislation will be future issues for the board.

-- Learned a recent PTA sale of 1,300 pies raised more than $4,500.

-- Learned no parents of free- and reduced-price lunch students wanted supplemental educational computer services for their students. The offering was mandated because the district fell below adequate yearly progress for the third consecutive year.


Local events heading

  Today is Tuesday, July 29, the 210th day of 2014. There are 155 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Col. H.F. Sickless informs us that there will be new organization of troops in this state under the call for more men.
1889 -- 125 years ago: James Normoyle arrived home after graduating from West Point with honors in the class of 1889. He was to report to Fort Brady, Mich., as second lieutenant in the 23rd Infantry.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Austria Hungary declared war on Serbia. Germany and Austria refused an invitation of Sir Edward Grey to join Great Britain at a mediation conference.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Dr. William Mayo, the last of the three famous Mayo brother surgeons, died at the age of 78.
1964 -- 50 years ago: One of the biggest horse shows of the season was held yesterday at Hillandale Arena on Knoxville Road under the sponsorship of the Illowa Horsemen's Club.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Davenport is like a gigantic carnival this weekend with the Bix Arts Fest taking over 12 square blocks of the downtown area. A festive atmosphere prevailed Friday as thousands of people turned out to sample what the Arts Fest has to offer.

(More History)