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Published: Friday, 1/28/2005

Otsego schools forecast deficit by '08

TONTOGANY - The Otsego Board of Education yesterday reviewed a five-year financial forecast that predicts a deficit for the district by 2008.

The financial report shows a steady decline in the district's general operating fund balance over the next few years, resulting in a deficit of $104,258 in 2008 and a deficit of $1.49 million in 2009.

Treasurer Christine Ziegler said the general fund decline is due to annual increases in operating costs without any new sources of revenue.

"This forecast shows the district doing business as usual," she said.

In 2004, the district collected less than it expected from income-tax revenue. Based on revenue from prior years, the district hoped to receive $2.14 million, but it collected only $1.8 million. Ms. Ziegler said the district was able to adjust its finances throughout the year to accommodate the difference.

The school board agreed to hold a work session in March to examine the district's finances more closely and to start deciding how to deal with future deficits.

Officials said that if the district decides to request additional taxes, the request probably should go on the ballot in 2006 to begin collecting money to cover the predicted 2008 deficit.

In other business, the board reviewed a tentative schedule for beginning construction of the district's building to house grades 7 through 12. The schedule shows the district advertising for bids in March, awarding construction contracts in April, and breaking ground in May.

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