Columbus – Without raising taxes, the Federal Hocking Local School District in Athens County emerged from fiscal emergency today, more than five years after first being put into fiscal distress status by the Ohio Department of Education. The release from fiscal emergency was announced by Auditor of State Dave Yost.
Getting to this day has not been easy, but the district is better for having faced up to its fiscal hardship,” Auditor Yost said. “Federal Hocking skinnied down by looking at expenses instead of increasing taxes. That’s a leadership example for every district and government in the state.
Federal Hocking Local School District was placed into fiscal emergency May 21, 2007 by the Auditor of State. Previously, the Ohio Department of Education declared fiscal caution in October 2006, and the Auditor declared fiscal watch in March 2007.
The basis for the declarations of fiscal distress included projected deficits of $282,000 in FY 2007 and $1,466,000 in FY 2008, along with the failure of the district to submit a plan for alleviating the deficits.
The district saved approximately $57,000 annually by staff reductions and retirements as well as approximately $158,000 annually through benefit changes. Additional general fund adjustments were allowed by creation of a permanent improvements fund to cover expenses previously in the general fund. Overall general fund expenditures were reduced by $731,000 to $11 million.
To be terminated from fiscal emergency, Federal Hocking Local School District met the following criteria:
- An effective financial accounting and reporting system has been implemented
- All of the fiscal emergency conditions have been corrected or eliminated, no new conditions have occurred, and the district will remain out of fiscal emergency during the forecast period
- The objectives of the financial recovery plan are being met; and
- The school has prepared a five-year forecast in accordance with standards issued by the Auditor of State.
A full copy of this termination is available online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,600 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.