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State places Clark County School District under 'fiscal watch'

Jackie Valley
Jackie Valley
IndyBlog
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A state committee voted Tuesday to place the Clark County School District on “fiscal watch” as a way to monitor its financial condition.

The Local Government Finance Committee approved a recommendation from the Department of Taxation to issue the designation to the state’s largest school district, which battled an estimated $60 million shortfall last year that led to several budget cuts.

The department recommended the designation because the district’s unassigned ending-fund balance — essentially a reserve pot of money — has declined for three years and is less than 4 percent of actual expenditures from its general fund. The committee advises the state tax department on fiscal matters.

The fiscal-watch designation does not amount to the district being put under state control, officials said. It’s more of a monitoring mechanism that will require the district to share monthly cash-flow statements with the department and provide periodic reports to the committee.

The school district isn’t the only local entity under a fiscal watch. The City of North Las Vegas has been for several years. Entities are removed from fiscal watch once the financial conditions that placed them there no longer exist.

“I think we’re in a different financial position than they are or were,” said Jason Goudie, the school district’s chief financial officer, referring to North Las Vegas. “But I also understand and I’ve expressed this in public —the fact that our ending-fund balance is lower than makes me comfortable.”

The Clark County School Board of Trustees voted in December to lower the district’s ending-fund balance to 0.78 percent to save positions that were in jeopardy of being cut because of the budget crisis.

The district hopes to bolster the ending-fund balance from roughly $6.4 million to $18 million by the end of fiscal year 2018, with additional increases in future years as well, Goudie said.

Eight members of the committee voted unanimously to approve the department’s recommendation on Tuesday. Two committee members were absent, and one committee member — Beth Kohn-Cole — abstained from the vote.

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