After paying salaries and benefits, administrators at Essex Community College have about $4 million left for utility, phone and postage bills.
But yesterday's $3 million cut in the college's operating budget has left officials wondering how far they can stretch the $1 million they have left.
"I honest to God don't know," said Harry Hardester, director of Essex's fiscal affairs.
As Gov. William Donald Schaefer unveiled $450 million in state budget cuts yesterday, Higher Education Secretary Shaila Aery met with community college presidents and other academic officials in Annapolis to assess the damage from cuts of $28.7 million to community colleges, $7.1 million to the 15 independent universities and colleges and $35.5 million to the University of Maryland System.
UM System administrators have drawn up a plan that directs layoffs of 254 full-time employees at the 14 institutions. Pink slips started circulating at UM Baltimore County in the offices of student affairs and academic and learning resources.
Students will also have to ante up.
Tuition increases are almost certain for next fall at almost all community colleges, colleges and universities in the state. The UM Board of Regents last Friday approved a 16 percent increase for next fall and UM students will be charged a 15 percent "surcharge" in January.
UM Chancellor Donald Langenberg warned, "This latest round of cuts, following on the heels of some $56 million in cuts during 1991, places us in grave danger of diminishing, perhaps beyond repair, the quality of many programs and services offered by our 14 institutions."
At the community colleges, administrators braced for further cuts from county governments, which also subsidize their operating budgets.
The governor gave notice yesterday that the counties' state aid would be cut 25 percent.
The Baltimore County Council learned that $7.4 million was cut from the $72 million allocated to Catonsville, Essex and Dundalk community colleges, part of an overall $17.5 million reduction in state aid.
State cuts at Howard Community College took $1.2 million from a $15 million budget.
Harford Community College was ordered to cut $1.1 million out of its $4.6 million allocation.
James D. Tschechtelin, interim president of the New Community College of Baltimore, said the college's reduction of $1.7 million means cuts in curriculum and programs offered to senior citizens, who are not required to pay tuition to attend class.