November 27, 2014

Elyria
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Late taxes from Genon credited to Avon Lake Schools

AVON LAKE — Lorain County Auditor Craig Snodgrass’ office has agreed to advance Avon Lake Schools roughly $1.5 million worth of taxes paid late by the owner of the power plant in the city.

Avon Lake Schools Treasurer Autumn Streng said Tuesday that decision doesn’t mean the district will get additional revenue but rather will be able to count the money as having come in this fiscal year as it had originally projected.

If Snodgrass hadn’t agreed to advance the money, Streng said, the district would have found itself $1.5 million short this year and with an extra $1.5 million in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

“We anticipated receiving this money, but the delay in payment put it into the next fiscal year,” she said.

The appearance of extra money in next year’s budget also could have hampered efforts to pass an 8.28-mill emergency levy that will appear on the May ballot and, if passed, generate about $6.5 million for the district each year, Streng said.

She said that even if the district didn’t have a levy on the ballot, getting the advance would still have been necessary to balance the district’s books at the end of the fiscal year.

The Avon Lake district has seen dwindling income in recent years.

In the 2012 fiscal year, the district took in $34.5 million. In the current 2013 fiscal year, Streng said, that figure had fallen to $32.9 million.

The district closed the budget gap by not replacing seven of 10 teachers who retired, laying off two more and reaching an agreement with the union representing non-teachers to have two furlough days, Streng said.

The unions also agreed to pay freezes through the 2015 fiscal year, she said.

The coal-fueled power plant, owned by Genon, is slated to close in 2015.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.